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Archive for Monday, February 12, 2007

Socialist candidate announces platform

February 12, 2007

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— French Socialist Party candidate Segolene Royal, attempting to rejuvenate a faltering bid to become the country's first female president, announced a 100-point platform Sunday that includes sending juvenile delinquents to military-style boot camps and providing free contraceptives to women younger than 25.

Royal billed the two-hour speech, delivered before an estimated 15,000 party members but aimed at a national television audience, as a response to critics who say she has articulated few substantive proposals and has leaned too heavily on her femininity and personality.

Royal, who was leading the opinion polls in the presidential race just a few weeks ago, has slipped eight points behind her main rival, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement party.

Her campaign has been plagued by blunders, gaffes and internal party disputes that included a public spat over taxes between Royal, 53, and the head of her party - who is also her longtime partner and the father of her four children.

Ten weeks remain before the election.

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