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 10/25/2006 : Royal suggests humanitarian work for ...

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MessageSujet: 10/25/2006 : Royal suggests humanitarian work for ...   Lun 30 Oct - 16:36

French Socialist candidate Royal suggests humanitarian work for young offenders

French Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal suggested that troubled youths should be be allowed to do humanitarian work in poor countries instead of spending time behind bars.

Poll favorite Royal faced off in a debate Tuesday night against two fellow Socialists who are her rivals for the party's bid for the spring election. While the past two debates have projected an image of party unity, Tuesday's was combative, with Royal's rivals attacking several of her ideas.

The debate focused on hot-button issues including crime, immigration and how to improve the situation in France's troubled neighborhoods, where rioting last year laid bare the problems of racism and unemployment faced by youths of immigrant origin. Friday marks the one-year anniversary of the riots.

In the past, Royal has suggested military training for troubled youths — a right-leaning idea that raised eyebrows among many of her colleagues. She added nuance to her position Tuesday by suggesting that the training could include humanitarian work.

"I do politics by looking at what I would do for my own children," said Royal, a 53-year-old mother of four, a lawmaker and a former environment and family minister.

"If one of us were unfortunately confronted with a prison term for our underage children, what would we choose?" she asked. "Prison? Or a humanitarian camp in a poor country, overseen by the army — yes, the army — or else by firefighters or police, by people who are capable of establishing rules, because it isn't summer camp."

Former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius quickly dismissed her idea, saying: "Soldiers have a lot of other things to do.

"Do you know how many first-time offenders there are every year? 48,000," he said. "So, for all of them to do humanitarian work would be a bit complicated."

The Socialists choose between Royal, Fabius and former Finance Minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn in November. The winner will face off the center-right's most likely candidate, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, in the spring election.

To avoid frontal confrontation, the Socialists' debates have been carefully staged, with the three candidates taking turns to answer moderators' questions. Royal broke the rules this time by interrupting her rivals several times as they criticized her.

As the debate opened, Royal defended one of her most controversial ideas — citizen juries to hold politicians accountable for their actions, an idea that critics have branded populist, even Maoist. Fabius declared straight away: "I don't agree with that."

Strauss-Kahn also criticized the idea, saying, "I'm not one of those people who think we can build a society on generalized suspicion."




Source : http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/10/25/europe/EU_GEN_France_Socialists.php

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