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3 French Socialists, but One Platform in TV Debate

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PARIS, Oct. 17 (Reuters) — The leading Socialist candidate for president, Ségolène Royal, on Tuesday urged fairer, environmentally friendly economic policies, speaking during a television debate with two former finance ministers who also hope to win the party’s nomination.

“I want to build a just economic, social and environmental order,” said Ms. Royal, 53. The party primaries are scheduled in November for next year’s presidential election.

Ms. Royal, who has angered some Socialists by departing from traditional positions on crime and by questioning the touchstone 35-hour workweek, voiced new concerns over the shorter workweek introduced by a previous Socialist government.

But she did not say whether she wanted to change it.

Ms. Royal’s Socialist opponents, Laurent Fabius, 60, and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, 57, laid out their economic plans by highlighting their experience as finance ministers.

Ms. Royal, a regional leader, is treated as a relative newcomer on the national scene and has been accused of evading debate.

Some 40 percent of French voters say Ms. Royal would make the best Socialist president, compared to 25 percent for Mr. Strauss-Kahn and 11 percent for Mr. Fabius, according to an LH2 poll published Tuesday in the daily newspaper Libération.

All three say they are committed to the party’s platform, which includes promises to cut unemployment and expand renewable energy, but they differed over details.

Mr. Fabius said he would raise the minimum wage immediately after winning office. Ms. Royal said she would consult unions on wage decisions. Mr. Strauss-Kahn urged more dialogue among the government, trade unions and employers over labor policy.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/18/world/europe/18france.html

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