Royal, Ségolène (Marie-Ségolène Royal)märēˈ-sāgōlĕnˈ rwäyälˈ, 1953–, French politician, b. Dakar, Senegal. A graduate of the École Nationale d'Administration (1980) who worked as a special assistant (1982–88) to President François Mitterrand, she was first elected to the national assembly, as a Socialist, in 1988. She served as minister of the environment (1992–93), minister for school education (1997–2000), and minister for the family and childhood (2000–2002). In 2004 she was elected president of the Poitou-Charentes regional council. Especially personable and outgoing for a French politician, the media-savvy Royal was chosen in 2006 to be the Socialist party's candidate for the presidency, becoming the first woman to be a major party candidate for the post. Second after the first round of voting in Apr., 2007, she lost to Nicolas Sarkozy in the May runoff, and subsequently decided not to stand as a candidate for the national assembly. Royal narrowly lost a 2008 bid to be Socialist party leader, but in 2011 she finished a distant fourth in her bid to win the Socialist presidential nomination.
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