Arnaud Montebourg, who came third in recent elections to choose the Socialist presidential candidate, has angrily denounced ratings agencies as "charlatans" in an interview.

"/> Arnaud Montebourg, who came third in recent elections to choose the Socialist presidential candidate, has angrily denounced ratings agencies as "charlatans" in an interview.

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FRANCOIS HOLLANDE

Left-wing MP: ratings agencies are ‘charlatans’

Arnaud Montebourg, who came third in recent elections to choose the Socialist presidential candidate, has angrily denounced ratings agencies as "charlatans" in an interview.

Left-wing MP: ratings agencies are 'charlatans'
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The member of parliament for Saône-et-Loire was speaking on radio station Europe 1 on Tuesday morning and expressed some of the anger that many French feel about the country’s recent loss of its AAA rating from Standard & Poor’s.

“For me, the rating agencies are charlatans,” he said. He complained they were also “at the origin of the global subprime crisis because they gave these toxic products a AAA rating.”

“And now they’re making money on the back of European states,” he said.

Montebourg proposed that use of the ratings agencies should be banned in France, which would “deprive them of revenues.”

He also suggested a publicly-financed European auditor would be better placed to rate sovereign debt than the privately-run ratings agencies.

Montebourg performed well in the October elections to choose the Socialist candidate who will likely challenge president Sarkozy in April’s presidential elections. 

He campaigned on a left-wing platform of protectionism and more state intervention, polling 17 percent of the votes. François Hollande ultimately won the contest.

He has published a book arguing for “deglobalization,” a process that would reverse the trend of shifting production to low cost regions around the world. 

The Economist magazine attacked his views as “patent nonsense” in an editorial in August which also described the French Socialists as “Europe’s most unreconstructed” left-wing party.

Montebourg has been more prominent since his strong performance in the vote and is likely to be given a ministerial position in a future government, should the Socialists win the spring vote.

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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.