What Jospin stood for

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Apr 22 07:40:09 MDT 2002

Financial Times (London), March 19, 2002




Lionel Jospin, France's Socialist prime minister, yesterday pledged to
create 900,000 jobs and to deliver Euros 18bn (Dollars 16bn, Pounds 11bn)
in tax cuts over the next five years, should he win the presidential

But a 40-page election manifesto unveiled by Mr Jospin at his campaign
headquarters in Paris yesterday gave little indication of how the measures
could be financed within the constraints of deficit reduction targets
agreed with the European Commission. Instead, he laid emphasis on ensuring
the French economy achieved an annual growth rate of 3 per cent. The first
round of the presidential elections takes place on April 21, with a second
round run-off between the two leading candidates due on May 5. The
publication of Mr Jospin's manifesto, entitled "I Commit Myself", comes
after President Jacques Chirac outlined his rival programme, called
"Commitment to France", last week.

The most striking aspect of the two main presidential rivals' proposals is
the absence of big differences. On the central campaign issue of law and
order, the two are almost embarrassingly similar, with each camp already
accusing the other of electoral plagiarism.

Mr Jospin has all but dropped the word socialism in a clear attempt to win
the centre-ground by avoiding identification as the Socialist party's
candidate. The main area where the two programmes diverge is how to sustain

Mr Chirac has made promises of reducing labour cost overheads by cutting
employers' social security contributions and easing the burden of the
35-hour week for small businesses. He hopes to persuade business to resume
investing while encouraging consumption through promises of big tax cuts.
He is committed to reducing income tax by one-third by 2007.

Yesterday, Mr Jospin also said he wanted to see a cut in income tax while
aligning France with the rest of the EU through the introduction of income
tax at source. He said the tax cuts would be financed largely through
increases in capital gains charges.

In addition, the premier pledged to halve the household property tax (taxe
d'habitation). This reform was promised under his outgoing administration
but was dropped for fear of upsetting middle-class voters. It would involve
a big overhaul of property register values and shift the burden of the tax
from low-income to high-income groups.

On job creation, both men have committed themselves to schemes to permit
training throughout a person's working life.

But Mr Jospin has distinguished himself by a plan to bring 200,000 people
aged over 50 back into work through special contracts. France lags behind
its EU partners in bringing this age group into the workforce and the
scheme compares with the huge effort devoted to providing youth jobs in the
public sector since 1997.

Mr Chirac suggested the introduction of a scheme to allow those under 25 to
be subsidised to find a vocation or help in humanitarian work.

To get round the high cost of hiring unskilled labour, the main pool of
jobless in France, he proposed special contracts for those aged under 22
where employers would be exempt of social security contributions.

Louis Proyect
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