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French elections

Nicolas Sarkozy

• Will balance French finances by 2016.

• Promises to call national referendums on compulsory training for the long-term unemployed and how to deal with illegal immigrants.

• In a bid to shed his reputation for favoring the rich, he promises to tax dividend income, apply a minimum 15% tax on major French corporations and introduce a levy for tax exiles who seek refuge abroad.

• To curb the excesses of the financial industry, Nicolas Sarkozy promises tougher regulation on banks and the introduction of a financial transaction tax.

• Plans to raise VAT to fund a reduction in social charges for employers and lower the cost of labor.

• Wants to halve the number of foreigners entering the country legally each year and increase deportations of illegal immigrants. Conditions for obtaining French papers and benefits will be tightened – Nicolas Sarkozy has threatened to suspend France’s membership of Europe’s visa-free Schengen zone unless he sees progress on EU external border controls.

• Threatens to impose unilateral trade restrictions in public procurement unless the EU introduces “buy European” legislation within a year.

• Backs nuclear power but says renewable energy will make up 23% of power supply by 2020.

• In the wake of shootings by gunman Mohamed Merah, Nicolas Sarkozy proposes making it an offence to access jihadist websites that glorify killing and to go abroad for jihadist indoctrination.

• Nicolas Sarkozy opposes gay marriage and euthanasia.

Nicolas Sarkozy vs. Francois Hollande

Nicolas Sarkozy vs. Francois Hollande

François Hollande

• Will balance French finances by 2017.

• Opposes a financial policy based only on austerity and has promised to renegotiate the European fiscal compact to include provisions on jobs and growth.

• His deficit-reduction measures include reversing tax breaks for the wealthy. Promises to target the rich with a 75% tax rate on those earning more than €1 million a year and a 45% tax rate for those earning more than €150,000. He plans to limit executive pay to 20 times the average wage and cut the president’s salary.

• Has outlined €20 billion of new spending over five years, including creating 150,000 state-aided jobs to tackle youth unemployment, 60,000 posts in education and more police jobs.

• Will restore the right to retire at 60 for those who began work at 18.

• Promises to fight discrimination with sanctions for companies failing to offer equal pay, the creation of a ministry of women’s rights and the allocation of half the ministerial posts in his cabinet to women.

• Wants to curb financial excess by: separating retail and investment banking and imposing a financial transaction tax; banning toxic financial products and stock options; curbing bonuses; creating a European ratings agency; and stopping banks operating in offshore tax havens.

• Supports the creation of a public investment bank to support small businesses.

• He wants to reduce the share of nuclear energy in the power supply to 50% from 75% by 2025, and promises to close the ageing Fessenheim nuclear plant but complete work on the advanced Flamanville European pressurized reactor power station.

• Will allow gay marriage and adoption for gay couples.