INTERNATIONAL: Mercier is Jospin's chief image consultant

PARIS: French prime minister Lionel Jospin, who is set to challenge

Gaullist Jacques Chirac for the presidency in April's elections, has

picked Euro RSCG PRO Nathalie Mercier as his chief image consultant.



Mercier has formerly acted as communications adviser to a number of

political candidates around the globe.



She recently advised the Mauritian prime minister in his unsuccessful

campaign, and was the top communications adviser to Senegalese president

Abdou Diouf, who lost two years ago to present head of state Abdoulaye

Wade.



As part of socialist Jospin's campaign team, she will work alongside

PROs Yves Colmou and Marie d'Ouince.



Industry speculation is that a final major PR appointment to Jospin's

campaign team will be made soon, with one source suggesting that veteran

French communications adviser Jacques Seguela, one of the founders of

Euro RSCG, is set for the role.



Seguela was the principal architect of Francois Mitterrand's electoral

victory in 1981 against Valery Giscard d'Estaing.



Jospin's fellow presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Chevenement announced

the appointment of his official campaign spokesman, Michel Suchod, late

last year (PRWeek, 23 November 2001).



The presidential elections are to be held on 21 April and 5 May this

year.



Neither Jospin nor Chirac have officially announced they will stand in

the forthcoming elections, but a battle between the two is seen as a

foregone conclusion.



Jospin, who came to power in 1997, has been backing proposals to tighten

French custody procedures in a move to prove his crime-fighting

credentials ahead of the elections.



Last week, Jospin said his government would seek to pass new measures

extending police powers of detention of suspects by the close of

parliament next month.



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