French President Nicolas Sarkozy and First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy waiting for guests at the Elysee Palace in Paris yesterday.
GONZALO FUENTES/ REUTERS
THREE months ahead of France's presidential elections, Socialist candidate Francois Hollande pledged to tax the rich but spare the middle classes, as the man polled to beat Nicolas Sarkozy outlined his manifesto.
Citing "justice" and "equality", Mr Hollande claimed his programme was measured and based on conservative growth estimates that factored in the economic crisis.
But allies of Mr Sarkozy said that on the contrary, it was old Left, "perilous for the social model and credibility of France" -- on the verge of recession -- and would "whack its middle class" by bringing up overall tax rates.
Promising to undo Mr Sarkozy's legacy blow by blow, Mr Hollande said he would cancel e29bn worth of tax breaks for the richest tranche of the population and big business but cut tax for small firms.
This, he predicted, would allow him to balance the budget by 2017, while simultaneously creating 60,000 teaching jobs and 150,000 state-funded jobs for first-time workers as part of e20bn in new spending.
"All my measures are favourable to the middle classes," Mr Hollande claimed, while adding that the rich had it too good under Mr Sarkozy and a pre-crisis period of "crazy pay outs".
Mr Hollande plans to introduce a new, higher rate of income tax for earners of more than e150,000 a year.
(© Daily Telegraph, London)