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 10/17/2006 : France's Royal marks differences over rivals

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MessageSujet: 10/17/2006 : France's Royal marks differences over rivals   Mer 18 Oct - 23:31

France's Royal marks differences over rivals in TV debate

By Kerstin Gehmlich

Socialist presidential frontrunner Segolene Royal on Tuesday urged fairer and greener economic policies, battling in a television debate against two former finance ministers who also hope to win the party's ticket.

Royal, 53, said France had to invest more money into research and environmentally friendly industries.

"I want to build a just economic, social and environmental order," Royal said in the first television debate ahead of party primaries in November for next year's presidential election.

Royal, who has sparked party anger by diverting from traditional Socialist positions on crime and by questioning the touchstone 35-hour week, voiced new concerns over the shorter work week introduced by a previous Socialist government.

But she did not say how, or whether she wanted to change it.

"Being Socialist means to respond to frustrations ... rather than recite formulas," she said.

Royal's presidential contenders Laurent Fabius, 60, and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, 57, laid out their economic plans by highlighting their previous experience as finance ministers.

Royal, a regional leader, is treated as a relative newcomer on the national sphere and has been accused of evading debate.

Some 40 percent of French voters say Royal would make the best Socialist president, compared to 25 percent opting for Strauss-Kahn and 11 percent for Fabius, according to an LH2 poll published in Liberation daily on Tuesday.

Polls also show Royal would be the only Socialist capable of beating conservative presidential frontrunner Nicolas Sarkozy.

All rivals say they are committed to the party's policy platform -- which includes promises to cut unemployment and boost renewable energies -- but they differed over details.

Fabius, who has positioned himself on the party's left, said he would raise the minimum wage immediately after coming into office.

Royal said she would consult unions on wage decisions.

Strauss-Kahn urged stronger dialogue between the government, trade unions and employers over labour policy.

The Socialists are still struggling to overcome their humiliating defeat in the 2002 presidential poll when their candidate Lionel Jospin was forced out of the second-round run-off by far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen.




Source : http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=1542722006

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