Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Socialists strike first blow of New Year

Yesterday, as the UMP was beginning its first ever online primary election, a spokesman for Socialist candidate Segolene Royal began the New Year with a string of attacks.

But Ms Royal's spokesman challenged his (Sarkozy's) record by claiming yesterday that the fall in car burnings last year — to 40,000 — was achieved only by massaging the statistics. Under new methods, cars damaged by flames from the vehicle set alight are no longer counted towards the total.

Mr Sarkozy said the rules essentially remained the same but that "in an effort to be more precise" he changed the way they were collated.

He also came under fire from Ms Royal's campaign for pandering to Europe's "tax havens", including Switzerland, where Johnny Hallyday, France's most famous rock star and friend of the interior minister, has just moved to escape the French taxman. Mr Sarkozy said he understood why citizens would want to leave given France's punitive tax rates.

Calling for Europe to do away with such "havens", which encouraged "fiscal dumping" and left the less privileged to pick up the bill, Ms Royal's spokesman said it was shocking that Mr Sarkozy held up "predatory" countries that lived off the wealth of others as a good reason for France to reduce its taxes. Read more...

To give them the benefit of the doubt, it was a slow day, and nothing breaks boredom better than campaign attacks. But if the Royal camp really wants to stay unique, they're going to have to start offering policies too.

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