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Sarkozy Pledges To Balance Budget If Re-Elected

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday unveiled his manifesto for the forthcoming presidential elections, pledging to balance the country's budget and slash debts if re-elected to the top post.

Briefly outlining a 32-point campaign platform for his second and final five-year term, Sarkozy told the French public that they should re-elect him if they wanted to prevent France from sliding to an economic crisis like the ones being faced by Greece and Spain.

"I want to say that in 2016 that France must have a balanced budget. I emphasize, a balanced budget is the golden rule for our citizens. I will vote it in from summer 2012. This golden rule is to be adopted by all our European partners - whether they are of the left or of the right," he said.

Sarkozy said he would slash public spending and increase taxes to balance the country's budget, adding: "Some countries in Europe are on the edge of a precipice today. We cannot refuse to make the historic choice of competitiveness, innovation and reducing public spending. To depart even slightly from the commitments France has made would mean a crisis of confidence."

Sarkozy said his economic policies would ensure a budget surplus of 0.5 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017, after achieving balance in 2016. He added that they will also lead to France's public debt dropping to 80.2% in 2017 after peaking at 89.4 percent in 2013.

Promising to freeze France's contributions to the European Union budget if re-elected, Sarkozy said: "I announce to you that France will ask that its contribution to the EU budget be frozen, which will represent savings of around 600 million euros per year."

"I won't go back on on the proposals I made on the fiscalisation of dividends, minimum taxes for big businesses and taxing tax exiles, withdrawing working tax credit (a state subsidy for the low paid) which will bring in 8bn euros ($10bn; £6.5bn) to the state's budget," he added.

Sarkozy unveiled his election manifesto just 17 days ahead of the first round of voting on April 22. He is seeking re-election as the candidate of the ruling center-right UMP party. Sarkozy has manged to nose ahead of his main rival and Socialist candidate Francois Hollande in recent opinion polls.

Nonetheless, opinion polls suggest that Hollande would defeat Sarkozy if the election extends into a second round. The run-off is scheduled to be held on May 6 if none of the candidates in the first round manage to secure the minimum-required 50% of the votes polled for an outright victory.

The other candidates in the French presidential election fray are far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, Centrist Francois Bayrou, communist Jean-Luc Melenchon, Green candidate Eva Joly, and former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.

Hollande has based his campaign mostly on tax-and-spend programs, higher taxes for the rich and promises to cut the country's widening budget deficit. In contrast, Le Pen has called for cutting annual immigration by up to 90% and favored abandoning the euro.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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