French candidate wants 100% tax rate
Thursday, 29 March 2012

Anti-capitalist firebrand whose ideas include 100% fat cat tax on earnings above $370,000 wins attention and support in the polls.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the hard left, anti-capitalist firebrand who is rising in the presidential election polls, is all over the French papers – billed as the great surprise, main event and key revelation of the campaign.

With crowds spilling into the street at his packed rally in Lille this week, and tens of thousands recently flocking to the Bastille to hear him call for a "civic insurrection", Mélenchon has been credited with 14% in the polls by BVA.

His numbers have catapulted him into the realms of becoming a possible "third man" in the first round vote on 22 April.

Mélenchon's initial aim is to overtake and annihilate his arch-nemesis, the National Front's Marine Le Pen, in the race for the working class and protest vote, as he explained on France Info radio on Thursday.

Mélenchon is already famous for his scathing attacks on opponents, and his public savagery of what he terms the "half-demented" Le Pen has become the stuff of campaign legend.

But commentators are now wondering whether François Hollande, the Socialist frontrunner, should be worried that Mélenchon's rise will eat into his vote.

Most of Mélenchon's voters are predicted to transfer to Hollande in the second round, as the broad French left is keen to do anything to stop Nicolas Sarkozy.

Some say the current Mélenchon-mania is good for the left, boosting its overall score. Others, who want Hollande to be the clear winner in the first round before the final runoff, say Mélenchon's rise should be contained.

So far, Hollande's strategy has been to carry on much as usual, pressing home his ideas such as a 75% tax on income over the €1m (£836,000) mark, and arguing that a huge, strategic rallying Socialist vote is needed in the first round in order to beat Sarkozy in the 6 May runoff.


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