Royal promises 'beautiful chapter' in the history of France

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France's Socialists formally launched Segolene Royal's candidacy yesterday to compete in a fierce presidential race with high stakes for her and her party: Royal wants to be France's first female president and the Socialists are desperate to win back power after 12 years under Jacques Chirac.

"Together we are opening a beautiful page in the history of France. A new hope has risen in France, like a gathering wave that can only grow," Royal told a crowd of 1,500 at a Paris congress hall.

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