As France’s two main rivals for the presidency both campaigned on French television, latest opinion polls put them neck and neck for the April first-round vote.
One poll even had President Nicolas Sarkozy coming out on top although he was still forecast to lose the all important second round in May.
Meanwhile, critics claim Sarkozy is determined to shed his friend-of-the-rich image with his latest election promise.
“We will apply the same measures like the Americans do – tax linked to nationality,” said President Sarkozy. “Any tax exile, that is to say, anyone who has gone abroad for the sole purpose of avoiding having to pay French tax, will have to declare to the French administration the sum of what he paid in taxes abroad and if it is lower than what he would have paid at home in France, he must pay the difference.”
Both Sarkozy and his Socialist challenger Francois Hollande are trying to win back voters tempted by the political extremes. After Sarkozy played the immigration card on Sunday, Hollande attacked his threat to pull out of Europe’s open-border Shengen zone: “He has no policies, he has not presented any programme of his own proposals, So he tries to improvise, and the latest improvised proposal is to review the Schengen treaty or even leave the zone entirely.”
As the deadline approaches for candidates to accrue the 500 mayoral signatures needed to contest the election, third placed, National Front leader Marine Le Pen is falling short. However Sarkozy and Hollande say she should be allowed to stand to reflect the French electorate.