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Socialist candidate Hollande talks taxes in TV interview as Sarkozy closes gap

Reuters

With opinion polls closing the gap between President Nicolas Sarkozy and his left-wing rival François Hollande, the Socialist candidate made a three-hour appearance on France 2 public television station Thursday evening vowing to boost taxes on the rich and sticking with plans to introduce a 75 per cent tax rate on incomes over one million euros. 

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But his appearance failed to dent Sarkozy’s confidence in his re-election as he talked openly for the first time on Friday about the possibility of his victory in the upcoming poll.

On the campaign trail in the town of Meaux to the east of Paris, Sarkozy said it was down to French people to choose who they wanted to lead the country.

“If the people of France now say ‘that’s enough’ and freely choose the next president of the Republic, then I tell you, dear friends, yes, we are going to win,” he said.

The latest opinion poll on Wednesday showed the two main candidates neck-and-neck with 28 per cent support in the first round on 22 April although the same poll showed Hollande would still win in the second round.

In his televised interview, Hollande sharply criticized his opponents for running an “excessive” and “vulgar campaign” and said he had stuck with his policy of “coherence, consistency and confidence”.

But Hollande is facing obstacles to his election other than Sarkozy including a new challenge from firebrand Left Front candidate Jean-Luc Melanchon who has enjoyed a recent boost in the polls.

Melachon passed the symbolic 10 per cent mark in polls last week with his strong attacks on the financial world and European austerity policies. He is due to hold a major campaing ralle on Sunday with ten of thousands of his supporters expected to take to the streets of Paris.

Meanwhile, Sarkozy could pick up some votes from the withdrawal of Dominque de Villepin from the race. Villepin said on Thursday that only a miracle would allow him to obtain the 500 signatures from mayors and local officials that he needs to run.
 

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