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.

"/> 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.

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FRANCOIS HOLLANDE

Socialist candidate tries to reignite campaign

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.

Socialist candidate tries to reignite campaign
OfficialPic

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.

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FRANCOIS HOLLANDE

Here’s the latest in France’s presidential race

President Francois Hollande warned would-be successors they should cleave closely to Europe as it was "impossible" that France could contemplate going its own way.

Here's the latest in France's presidential race
French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron in Reunion. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

Here are three things that happened in the campaign on Saturday:

Let them throw eggs

Conservative candidate Francois Fillon, under pressure over allegations of fake parliamentary jobs for the family which have hit his poll ratings, received a chaotic reception on a trip to the southern Basque region where some protesters pelted him with eggs.

Fillon, who has accused Hollande of helping foment a smear campaign against him amid claims his wife was on the public payroll but did little for her salary, ran the gauntlet in the small town of Cambo-les-Bains.

Locals demanding an amnesty for radical Basque nationalists banged pots and pans, hurled abuse and objects.

“The more they demonstrate the more the French will back me,” Fillon insisted before meeting with local officials.

Warning on Europe

President Francois Hollande warned would-be successors they should cleave closely to Europe as it was “impossible” that France could contemplate going its own way.

In a barb aimed at far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen, Hollande said: “So some want to quit Europe? Well let them show the French people they would be better off alone fighting terrorism without the indispensable European coordination…

“Let them show that without the single currency and (single) market there would be more jobs, activity and better purchasing power,” Hollande said in Rome where he attended the ceremonies marking the EU's 60th anniversary.

Le Pen, favoured in opiniion polls to reach the second-round run-off vote in May, wants France to dump the euro, but Hollande said that would lead to devaluation and loss of purchasing power as he warned against nationalist populism.

'Not Father Christmas'

French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, seen in polls as beating Marine Le Pen in the May 7 run-off, was in Reunion, a French overseas department in the Indian Ocean, where alongside discussing local issues, he told voters he was “not Father Christmas.”

“I don't have the solution to all problems and I am not Father Christmas,” the 39-year-old former economy minister and banker admitted, saying he had not come to make “promises.”

He indicated he would focus on education as a priority on an island where around one in five youths are illiterate.