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Hollande targets 'world of finance'

Candidate plans measures to cut bonuses and get people back to work as he attacks Sarkozy for "degradation" of France

PROMISING to be the "president of the end of privileges", François Hollande said he aimed to get France - and Europe - back to work by targeting "the world of finance".

Speaking in front of 15,000 party members in Le Bourget, outside Paris, the Socialist candidate outlined new projects for when he takes power and set a new tone after attacks that he lacked the experience to lead the country.

With President Sarkozy still, officially, to join the fight, Hollande said: "In the battle ahead my real adversary has no name, no face, no party ... he will never be elected, but he rules in spite of that: it's the world of finance."

He was echoing a speech by François Mitterrand in the run-up to his victory in 1981 who spoke of the "power of finance, finance that corrupts, flattens and ruins".

And he set out a panel of left-wing projects to take back control: a tax on financial transactions, taxing fortunes "at the same level as for work", a new 45% band for earnings of more than €150,000, a €10,000 limit on tax loopholes, a ban on stock options, and tight limits on bonus payouts.

Alongside this he plans urgent measures on jobs, the young unemployed and to improve housing and health.

He would create a new public investment bank to fund loans to hard-hit small businesses, investment to improve insulation and energy efficiency in a million homes - "which could create tens of thousands of jobs" - and more coordination in the Eurozone with links for major projects.

He said there would be no increase in civil service jobs during his term but the present system of replacing only one job in two would end.

Hollande said he was a man "ambitious for his country and humble for himself" and attacked Sarkozy - without once naming him - for the "degradation" of France as it lost its vaunted triple-A status.

The loss of the AAA rating, plus news of plans to raise VAT to reduce business costs, halted Sarkozy's recent rise in opinion polls and he now trails Hollande by seven points. Hollande is on 30%, Sarkozy 23% and the Front National's Marine Le Pen on 18% with François Bayrou increasing his share to 13%.

To see a video of Hollande at Le Bourget, click to Dailymotion

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