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French presidential election 2012

Green candidate Eva Joly launches struggle for anti-Sarkozy vote

Reuters/Charles Platiau

Ecologist candidate for France’s president Eva Joly called on the French to “vote with their hearts” at the first public meeting in her campaign for this year’s presidential election. She proposed ending nuclear power within 20 years and creating a million eco-jobs but her main challenge is to be taken seriously as a presidential contender.

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Credited with only two to three per cent in opinion polls, the Norwegian-born Green

candidate has to convince left-leaning voters to back her in April’s first round of voting rather than rallying round Socialist François Hollande in the hope of kicking President Nicolas Sarkozy’s out.

At her first major public meeting in Roubaix, northern France, Joly accused Sarkozy of wanting to “humiliate the unemployed” with a proposal for a referendum on changing the conditions for receiving benefits while “giving his mates, the rich” presents” in the form of tax cuts.

Although he has yet to officially announce that he is standing for reelection, Sarkozy gave a campaign-style an interview to the right-wing Figaro magazine in which he defined his “values” as “work, responsibility and authority” and made a point of opposing gay marriage and euthanasia.

Sarkozy’s values have nothing to do with the “generous France” that welcomed her when she was a young au pair, Joly told her audience.

After “five years of division” she wants to “reconcile France with Europe [and] the French with each other and the future” through a transition to an eco-friendly world.

The main points of Eva Joly’s programme are:

  • Create a million jobs in green industries;
  • End nuclear power within 20 years;
  • Scrap military nuclear capability;
  • A carbon tax;
  • Tax reform, including 70 per cent on income over 500,000 euros a year;
  • Return to retirement at 60;
  • Raise minimum social security payments by 50 per cent;
  • Stamp out financial crime.

Despite a divisive selection process, the best-known members of her EELV party pledged their support for Joly at the rally, with the single exception of Euro-MP Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who sent a videomessage judged unenthusiastic by journalists present.

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