Friday, December 29, 2006

Candidates vow to fight homelessness

An English daily from Qatar has a nice summary of an issue that is dominating the French airwaves, drawing in the current government as well as the presidential hopefuls.

With temperatures falling and France's 2007 presidential election moving closer, the plight of the homeless has dominated front pages and politicians from all main parties have promised more help for those without a roof over their heads.


Lobby group "The Children of Don Quixote" initiated the current debate when it set up dozens of red tents along Paris's Canal Saint Martin earlier this month, calling on Parisians to sleep out in the cold in solidarity.

The group wants authorities to open shelters 24 hours a day throughout the year and to build more social housing.


Francois Hollande, the leader of the opposition Socialists, said he supported many of the association's demands.

The Socialists' presidential frontrunner Segolene Royal has not made concrete promises on the issue, but said: "My priority is the fight against a high cost of living and economic insecurity."

Her likely conservative presidential challenger, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, has vowed that no homeless person would have to sleep outside within two years of his taking office.

It's hard to doubt the sincerity of the two candidates, although their assertions are a bit humorous. Royal appears to be fighting against everything wrong in France, and yet she has never presented her battle plans. As for Sarkozy's comment that no homeless person would have to sleep outside, one can easily joke that he has a warmer place waiting for them: jail.

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