France election: Hollande and Sarkozy questioned on TV

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Media captionMr Sarkozy warned viewers about the country's debt and the need for austerity

The two candidates in France's presidential run-off have appeared on television, 10 days before the vote.

Incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist challenger Francois Hollande took turns answering reporters' questions, many of which focused on economic issues.

Mr Hollande won most votes in last Sunday's first round, polling more than 28%. He said France needed "growth", not more austerity.

Mr Sarkozy - who scored 27% - stressed the need to restore public finances.

"You don't think growth is achieved by spending freely," Mr Sarkozy said.

He promised to bring France's large budget deficit down to 3% of GDP by next year, and to eliminate it by 2016.

Mr Hollande, for his part, said: "There can be no return to balance without growth."

He also called for "Eurobonds" backed by all eurozone members to help indebted countries.

On Germany's opposition to the idea he said: "(Chancellor Angela) Merkel will probably contest these demands - this will be a subject for negotiation.

"It's not Germany that's going to decide for all of Europe."

Mr Hollande and Mr Sarkozy answered questions on a range of issues, including education, housing, policing and immigration.

Unemployment woes

The BBC's Christian Fraser in Paris says it has not been a particularly good day for Mr Sarkozy.

New figures put unemployment at almost 2.9m - the 11th consecutive monthly rise and the highest level since 1999.

Mr Sarkozy has made overtures to the supporters of far-right leader Marine le Pen - who came third with 18% of the vote in the first round. Yet Mr Sarkozy remains eight to 10 points behind Mr Hollande in opinion polls.

The two are to face each other in a direct televised debate next Wednesday.

With Mr Hollande within touching distance of the presidency, a convincing performance will be crucial, our correspondent adds.

Mr Sarkozy proposed holding three debates, but Mr Hollande refused to take part in more than one.

Wages, pensions, taxation and unemployment have been topping the list of voters' concerns.

President Sarkozy has promised to tackle the budget deficit and tax people who leave the country for tax reasons.

Mr Hollande has promised to raise taxes on big corporations and people earning more than 1m euros a year.

He also wants to raise the minimum wage, hire 60,000 more teachers and lower the retirement age from 62 to 60 for some workers.

If elected, Mr Hollande would be France's first left-wing president since Francois Mitterrand, who completed two seven-year terms between 1981 and 1995.

If Mr Sarkozy loses he will become the first president not to win a second term since Valery Giscard d'Estaing in 1981.

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