+44 (0) 20 3265 1052 or Email me
Socialist candidate Ségolène Royal, at one stage far ahead of the right-of-centre Nicolas Sarkozy in the race for the French Presidency, has been faltering in the opinion polls in the face of withering criticism of her election manifesto.
Royal has promised to increase the minimum wage by £100 for a 35-hour week, to give the unemployed an income of 90% of their last pay packet and to guarantee a first job for school leavers. She also wants to re-nationalise the electricity and gas industries. Analysts have priced her 100-point manifesto at 35 billion Euros, branded it unaffordable, and described it as die-hard, antiquated socialism.
Sarkozy’s own manifesto has come in for its share of criticism, too. The cost of his proposed reform programme, 30 billion Euros, is said to be partly offset by a projection of economic growth that some commentators suggest is far too optimistic. Sarkozy has promised 68 billion Euros of tax cuts for companies, but over a ten-year period, which makes the figures entirely dependent upon whether he wins a second term.
Sarkozy intends to compel trade unions to hold a secret ballot if a strike lasts for more than a week, to scrap tax on overtime payments, to abolish most forms of inheritance tax and to make mortgage interest payments tax deductible, as they used to be in the UK. On the debit side, he is looking at a substantial increase in value added tax.
Leading newspapers, who regularly commission opinion polls, are predicting a Royal-Sarkozy run-off in the second round of the election, to be held in May, with Sarkozy to win by a few percentage points.