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Socialist candidate tries to reignite campaign

Matthew Warren · 3 Jan 2012, 08:13

Published: 03 Jan 2012 08:13 GMT+01:00

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Socialist presidential candidate François Hollande relaunched his presidential bid on Tuesday with just over 100 days to go until the first round of voting on April 22nd.

Since running a successful bid to win the party's candidacy in October, Hollande is widely seen to have failed to make an impact.

While he still leads incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy in the polls, his lead has dwindled in recent weeks.

A poll at the end of December for Les Echos newspaper showed the gap between the two in the first round of voting shrinking to just 3 percent. A poll just after Hollande's selection had a gap of 15 percent.

On Tuesday, the front page of left-leaning daily Libération carried a full page letter from Hollande to the French people, followed by six pages of detail.

In a downbeat assessment of the health of the nation, Hollande wrote that French people were "suffering."

"Unemployment is at an all-time high and growth at an all-time low; rising prices and taxes cut their purchasing power; insecurity is everywhere," he wrote.

Hollande reinvoked his campaign theme of the "French dream" and set out four principles: truth, determination, justice and hope.

"I will not be a president who comes before you six months after the election to say we have to change course," he wrote.

Politicians were reacting on Tuesday morning to the campaign relaunch.

Government spokeswoman and budget minister Valérie Pécresse tweeted "On the advice of my followers, I'm reading Libération and I'm looking for a new idea or a concrete proposal .... damn, still nothing!"

The leader of bosses' organisation MEDEF, Laurence Parisot, said that it was important to "pay attention" to the use of negative words to describe France.

"I travel abroad a lot to support French business," she said on radio station Europe 1 on Tuesday morning. "This is not the image of France and its economy, which is still attractive and admired."

"We must take care. It seems to me that in general politicians discard a bit too easily their responsibility in the current climate."

Hollande will try to get traction for his message when he appears on one of the main evening news programmes on Tuesday evening to set out his plans.


Matthew Warren (news.france@thelocal.com)

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