One in two French back Jean Luc Mélenchon’s proposal to increase the minimum wage from €1,400 to €1,700 a month.
A new poll found that 43% think the plan by the radical Left Front’s Presidential candidate is ‘justified’, with 55% backing from people who indicate support for the Socialist Party.
The Socialist candidate Francois Hollande, currently frontrunner against incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy, has made no commitment to lifting wages.
54% of young people (18-24) back the measure with support among workers at 52-54%.
Mélenchon, who recent polls have put in third place in the French Presidential election, argues that a substantial rise for France’s poorest workers, alongside a overall increase in wages, pensions and welfare minima is not only fair, but economically sound as it will boost consumer spending and so benefit the struggling French economy.
Mélenchon’s programme also includes implementing a maximum pay differential of 1 to 20 in all businesses and 100% tax on incomes above €360,000 a year.
These policies together would also tackle poverty and widening inequalities of wealth.
The leader of the Left Front – an alliance including former Socialists like Mélenchon, now in the Left Party, and the French Communist Party – has made a major impact on the elections, forcing both Hollande and Sarkozy to adopt policies less friendly to business and banks.
The French will cast their votes for head of state on April 22 and very likely again in a run-off election on May 6 between the Socialist and right-wing UMP candidates.