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Socialist presidential hopefuls vow to tackle banks

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-09-29

The six would-be presidential candidates from the French Socialist party held their second televised debate Wednesday ahead of next month's primary. On the docket were such subjects as banking reform and tackling France's troubled economy.

REUTERS - The top Socialist candidates for France’s presidential election next year promised on Wednesday to bring the banking system to heel, punish tax evaders and empower the government to steer a faltering economy toward recovery.

In their second televised debate ahead of a Socialist party primary next month, the six contenders argued over how much of a role the French state should play in nursing the economy to health and fixing a beleaguered banking system.

François Hollande, Ségolène Royal, and Martine Aubry on the economy

“I’m worried that this is a race to see who can make the most interventionist proposal of all,”said Manuel Valls, who has the support of 5 percent of Socialist activists, according to an OpinionWay-Fiducial poll published on Tuesday.

He spoke after Segolene Royal, who lost to Sarkozy in the 2007 election, proposed to ban what she called “stock market layoffs” — or staff reductions by companies which made a profit in the preceding fiscal year — and empowering the state to " move faster than speculators".

Asked if she feared being accused of trying to turn back the clock to the 1970s, she said: “ Well, they can say that and it will not bother me. The seriousness of the crisis is forcing us to change the rules of the game.”

The debate on iTele was a chance for the candidates to address a national audience and mark their independence from a Socialist party platform which some have criticised as too restrictive, seven months before a presidential election against President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Polls show a deeply unpopular Sarkozy losing against Francois Hollande, the Socialists’ leading candidate, in the April 2012 race as France’s economic outlook darkens and corruption scandals circle closer to the head of state.

Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry, the second most popular Socialist behind Hollande, said she would travel to Germany immediately after her election to discuss with Chancellor Merkel radical measures to deal with Europe’s crisis.

“We need to change Europe deeply,” said Aubry, who had the backing of 30 percent of Socialist voters in Tuesday’s poll. “We need a Europe that innovates, that brings the banks to heel and makes them work for the economy.”

Hollande, with 43 percent support among left-wing voters, said he would propose a “generational contract” to help youths and seniors — the two categories of French society hit hardest by unemployment — regain access to the job market. “First and foremost we need to restore confidence,” he said.

A survey by LH2 for Yahoo, published on Sept. 5, showed Hollande winning against Sarkozy in the final stage of a two-round election with 57 percent of vote intentions, versus 43 percent for the incumbent.

For Arnaud de Montebourg, a proponent of “deglobalisation" backed by 10 percent of left-wing voters, the top priority was reining in a “dangerous” financial system by placing government officials with veto power on banking boards.

“If you elect me president of the Republic, my first decision will be to propose an emergency law to put banks under supervision," he said. "This law will help to guarantee your savings, to forbid banks from speculating with your money and to make banks pay for the crisis.”

“Tax evasion will be severely punished,” he added.


Date created : 2011-09-29


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