Francois Hollande, Socialist Party candidate for the 2012 French presidential election
Francois Hollande, Socialist Party candidate for the 2012 French presidential election

Francois Hollande, the socialist candidate leading the polls for the French presidency, has put further momentum into his campaign by issuing a 60-point manifesto outlining his plans for France.

Hollande's programme, which he described as being aimed at "bringing France back together", endeavours to address the issue of the economic crisis from a perspective that departs from incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy's economic policies.

Among the package of measures, he pledged to make fiscal reforms, including raising taxes on corporations, banks and the wealthy, and increasing government spending while balancing the budget by 2017.

He also promised to help kickstart the economy by supporting small businesses with tax cuts and to create 150,000 subsidised jobs for the young in areas of high unemployment as part of €20bn (£16.7bn) in new spending.

The creation of 60,000 teaching jobs within the next five year is also on the cards, as well as returning the age of retirement to 60 from 62, a measure set to be popular in France.

Hollande further pledged to make a 30 percent cut in the salaries of the president and ministers and proposed introducing a measure of proportional representation for parliamentary elections.

He also insisted on the need for more social housing, said same-sex marriage would be legalised in France and vowed to reduce France's dependence on nuclear power from 75 per cent to 50 per cent by 2025.

With France going through a serious economic crisis, Hollande knows that public opinion will be influenced by the candidates' abilities to come up with a strong economic programme.

"I only make promises that I will be able to keep, nothing more, nothing less. Everything I say will be done," he insisted. "All my measures are favourable to the middle classes."

Sarkozy's camp responded by saying Hollande was making "unrealistic promises", while Marine Le Pen, the far-right National Front leader, dismissed the manifesto as "a sanitised project".

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "I don't want to interfere in French domestic politics but we want to prevent the French making a mistake that would damage the UK economy.

"It is important that a vital part of the UK services industry should not be damaged by reason of short-term political vindictiveness."