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Socialists present ideas in TV debate

The six Socialist primaries candidates presented their manifestos on issues like law and order, work and the economy

A VAT increase to help the disadvantaged, a price freeze on essential products, more police and better pay were among the promises of the Socialist presidential hopefuls in the latest televised debate.

The six candidates faced up to each other, to explain how they would tackle the big questions of the day if they got the top job next year.

First secretary Martine Aubrey said if she is elected she will go straight to see German chancellor Angela Merkel to tell her “we must change Europe”. Her policies also included raising the minimum wage and recruiting an extra 10,000 police. “There must be punishment from the first antisocial act,” she said.

François Hollande, current favourite in the polls, said he wanted a law reigning in high salaries of bosses, including stock-options. He also wanted to create “centres of reinforced reeducation” for young delinquents, and making civic service obligatory for them.

Arnaud Montebourg said he would “make the banks pay, not the taxpayers”. As for salaries, he wants firms to pass on more of their profits – “I suggest a sharing law, e100 to the shareholders, e100 to the staff”. He also spoke against globalisation.

Ségolène Royal would freeze the price of petrol and 50 essential products to help with purchasing power and she said the minimum wage should go up because it was too close to the poverty threshold. “I want work to pay,” she said, recommending an obligation for salary discussions in businesses and obligatory progression of salaries. She proposed military service for young delinquents as a solution for crime.

Manuel Valls said getting out of debt was a priority and he would help businesses, notably small firms, become more competitive. He also put forward a “social VAT” – an extra 1% which would be used to help the disadvantaged – an idea which the other candidates criticised, saying it would hit the poor most of all. He said every commune should have a police municipale .

Jean-Michel Baylet, who heads the Parti Radical de Gauche group, emphasised his difference from the other candidates, accusing them of “talking nonsense”. He said defending small business would be a priority for him and said, on salaries, that neither in the public nor the private sector were there the means to decree a generalised rise.

A first round of elections for the candidate is to be held on October 9, and all French citizens will be able to vote. This is a first as usually the voting is for Socialist Party members.

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