20:14 GMT22 October 2020
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    French Citizens Elect New President (48)
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    Head of left-wing political movement La France Insoumise (Unsubmissive France) Jean-Luc Melenchon, who has enjoyed a surge in popularity and voting intention figures during recent weeks, has a rather ambitious presidential policy, which includes plans to rewrite the constitution, devalue the euro and withdraw from NATO.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — "Our collective intelligence can overcome all the difficulties if we put all efforts into the common good. We must assume our responsibilities not only for ourselves but also for the universal humanity. I am ready for this. You are ready for this, I know it," Melenchon said in his program.

    Institutional reforms 

    Melenchon has vowed to rewrite France's constitution so that an end could be put to "presidential monarchy" and parliamentary power boosted. The candidate's proposed amendments also include changing the order and principles of the parliament's formation, in particular by prohibiting the lawmakers of previous convocations to sit in the constituent assembly.

    The constitutional changes, as well as ratification of any European treaty, would be put on a vote at a referendum.

    The left-wing candidate has also drawn particular attention to lobby groups which seek to influence the decision-making process of the legislature, and has stated that he intends to prohibit their entry into parliament altogether.

    He has also said he wants to end the so-called revolving door principle, which forces public servants seeking work in the private sector to resign and repay the cost of their training if they served less than 10 years. Moreover, Melenchon said he plans to toughen the rules against conflicts of interest by extending the periods of prohibition for exercising private functions after resigning from civil service in the same sector.

    Additional measures will be put in place to curb corruption, Melenchon has stated, even adding that he intends to set a right for the citizens to propose legislation.

    In his campaign, the left-wing candidate called for abolishing the Senate, the upper house of the French parliament, and the Cour de Justice de la Republique (Law Court of the Republic), a special court established to handle cases of ministerial misconduct.

    Human rights

    Melenchon seeks to expand human rights and freedoms, placing France "to a new stage of human emancipation." According to the left-wing presidential hopeful, the constitution should guarantee freedom of conscience, right to contraception and voluntary termination of pregnancy, right "to die with dignity" (including with someone's assistance), and a guaranteed access to palliative care.

    Particular attention would be given to the rights of women and children, and the fight against racism and segregation. In particular, the presidential hopeful has vowed to abolish patriarchy in the society and ban prostitution.

    Melenchon has also promised to impose sanctions on the companies which discriminate against women in terms of occupied posts and salary.

    Security

    Melenchon believes that approaching  the issue of security and counterterrorism should be more logical and comprehensive, and that theories like the "clash of the civilizations" should be abandoned. The left-wing candidate has said that such issues as combating trafficking, corruption and terrorism should be prioritized.

    He has urged for police reform to increase its role in maintaining security. In particular, Melenchon has said he plans to double the number of technical and scientific police officers, and provide additional training to all interested officers.

    The presidential hopeful has vowed to set a mandatory public service for men and women under 25, which will include tasks related to such fields as public relief, fire-fighting, public security, civil defense, and environmental protection.

    With regard to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Melenchon believes it to be an organization which should not exist anymore, as its main goal — to confront the Soviet Union — is no longer relevant. Instead, the candidate has called for the adoption of a new military program aimed at restoring France's military independence.

    Migration 

    Melenchon has said he plans to facilitate the process of getting French citizenship for those foreigners who stay on the country's territory on a legal basis. His proposals also include introducing a stricter control for counterterrorism operations, reinforcing intelligence services and making punishments for supporting and financing terrorists more severe.

    As for refugees, the left-wing candidate has called for the revival of the European Union's external border control policy and establishment of an assistance program for migrants returning to their home countries. The presidential hopeful has urged for the construction of reception centers under high, international standards, and called to put an end to placing of children in the detention centers.

    Taxes, Welfare

    The left-wing candidate has endorsed a 35-hour working week with overtime payment of 25 percent for an extra four hours of work, and to 50 percent if longer. For those who work during the nights or have taxing work, Melenchon has suggested cutting the working week to 32 hours.

    He has also called for the harmonization of social time with working hours so that employees need not sacrifice time with their families.

    Melenchon has promised to increase the national minimum wage by 16 percent and raise the salaries of civil servants. With regard to big businesses, the nominee has said he intends to set a maximum to facilitate the elimination of wage disparity between ordinary workers and top managers.

    Moreover, the Unsubmissive France nominee has said that he seeks to set the retirement age at 60 and review pensions in accordance with minimal wages.

    Eradication of poverty is another key aspect of Melenchon's policy. Specifically, the candidate wants to achieve "zero homelessness" by constructing social accommodation, as well as to elaborate a special plan aimed at improving the lives of the poor and granting them free access to essential needs.

    Regarding taxes, Melenchon has said he will review the taxation system and increase the tax burden for the rich. He has also proposed changing the system from five tax bands to a more progressive 14 bands, with those receiving salaries 20 times higher the median income (400,000 euros per year) to be taxed at 100 percent.

    He intends to increase inheritance tax and taxes on property deals, while at the same time cutting corporate tax and taxes for small and medium-sized businesses, as well as reducing the value-added tax (VAT) for basic necessities.

    Economy 

    Protection of national economy is one of Melenchon's priorities. He believes that "Europe from the dreams of our ancestors is dead," while the European Union is nothing more than a common market where people are subject to the dictate of financial institutions. Therefore, Melenchon has called for France's withdrawal from all European treaties which stipulate austerity policies, as well as the elimination of state action and public investments. He has also expressed his negative stance on the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the EU-US Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA).

    The Unsubmissive France nominee also seeks to devalue the euro against the dollar.

    Melenchon has also stated his intention to adopt emergency anti-dumping measures on strategic industries, increase tariffs for countries with limited social rights (using child labor or lacking trade union rights), and take measures against tax havens.

    As far as environmental protection is concerned, Melenchon has said he plans to inject additional 100 billion euros ($106 billion) for environment-friendly and socially useful projects, and increase support for small and medium-sized businesses. In addition, the candidate has highlighted the necessity of ensuring economy's transition to renewable sources and zero-carbon consumption via significant investments and research.

    Education, health care

    Melenchon has said it is necessary to improve the health care system by establishing a public health and prevention policy, which would include, among other things, pollution control, a ban on pesticides, and the prevention of chronic diseases. Particular attention will be paid to the disabled people and children.

    With regards to education, the system should be improved, genuine free public education should be ensured, and at least 60,000 teachers should be employed over a five-year period. Melenchon has said he intends to increase teachers' salaries, in particular for those who teach in primary schools.

    He also plans to promote sports activities and arts.

    Foreign policy

    Melenchon has urged for all necessary efforts to be taken to restore peace in Syria, as well as for the arrival to a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    He has also called on France to respect the independence of African states, build news anti-globalist alliance with the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) states, and support China's initiative on creating a global common currency free from the dominance of dollar.

    Melenchon also endorses strengthening ties with Latin America states.

    As regards Russia, Melenchon believes that it is necessary to maintain dialogue with Russia, though he is not supportive of Russian policy becoming "authoritarian" from time to time.

    Speaking about Africa, Melenchon vows to rupture links with African leaders, ceasing Paris long-standing support of "dictators" in the region.

    The first round of French presidential election is set for Sunday, while the run-off is scheduled for May 7.

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    French Citizens Elect New President (48)

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