French presidential candidate Ségolene Royal has signed a social pact promising to help residents of unfavoured city suburbs. Royal signed the pact on a visit to Clichy-sous- Bois near Paris, which saw extensive rioting 18 months ago after two youths were electrocuted while attempting to run away from the police.
Royal promised to introduce community policing methods that responded to the needs of residents:
“France needs communities like this,” she said, “Their energies and their talents, and I don’t want to consider them as part of the problem, but on the contrary as part of the solution to the problem.”
The pact presented by the community group AC Le Fe Leu contains 105 pledges on issues such as jobs, public services, social security and housing.
Meanwhile Royal’s conservative rival Nicolas Sarkozy was on a visit to Spain. He held talks on Europe’s institutional crisis with Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, saying later that the Spanish prime minister was receptive to his idea of a simplified constitution for the EU. He also laid a wreath in memory of the victims of the Madrid train bombings of 2004.
Sarkozy has a slight lead over Royal in opinion polls, but both are facing a strong challenge from centrist Francois Bayrou.