Three months before the French presidential election, the socialist frontrunner François Hollande has rallied his supporters at his most high-profile appearance so far.
Speaking before thousands of party rank-and-file near Paris, he outlined several things he would do in office. Declaring that his real enemy was ‘finance’, he backed a financial transactions tax and a public credit ratings agency.
“I would stop politicians from holding several posts at the same time. (I want) Partial proportional representation in the National Assembly, parity between men and women in the exercise of responsibility, and the right to vote for foreigners at local elections… Without fearing anything for our citizenship, for the cohesion of the country, in putting aside fears, timidity and conservatism,” he said to rapturous applause.
One poll this weekend gives Hollande a seven-point lead in the election first round, and suggests he would comfortably beat Nicolas Sarkozy in a run-off by 57 per cent to 43 per cent for the current president.
Sarkozy, who has been on a visit to French Guyana, has yet to declare officially that he will run. In the weeks to come he is likely to target Hollande’s lack of government experience.
But both face several other potential rivals. Centrist Francois Bayrou, who scored 18 per cent in the election first round five years ago, shows signs of posing a dangerous threat again.
All will have to contend with National Front leader Marine Le Pen, looking to repeat her father’s success ten years ago when he reached the presidential run-off.