Presidential candidate returns to car factory job

A French Trotskyite returned to his job in a Ford car factory Wednesday after failing to get himself elected as the country's president.

Presidential candidate returns to car factory job
Photothèque Rouge/JMB

Philippe Poutou, who ran for the New Anti-Capitalist Party but got only 1.15 percent of the vote in the election’s first round on April 22, resumed work at 6:00 am local time back at the plant in Blanquefort in southwestern France

“I’m happy to see my mates and colleagues again,” the 45-year-old technician told France Bleu radio as he returned to the job from which he had taken leave to work on his campaign.

President Nicolas Sarkozy and his front-running Socialist challenger Francois Hollande beat off Poutou and eight other challengers in the first round to make it through to the run-off on Sunday.

On Tuesday Poutou said voting for Hollande would be a good way to “get rid of Sarkozy” but he declined to specifically instruct his supporters to plump for the Socialist.

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Hollande steps up eurobonds push

President Francois Hollande stepped up his push Thursday for the launch of eurobonds after a summit of EU leaders in Brussels exposed divisions on the issue.

Hollande steps up eurobonds push
LCP Assemblee Nationale

Hollande said he wanted to see eurobonds “written into the agenda” of the European Union going forward, saying he saw jointly pooled eurozone debt as a fundamental means of bolstering the debt-stricken single currency.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly come out against eurobonds and Hollande told a news conference after five hours of talks among EU leaders in Brussels he had a “different conception” of what eurobonds offer Europe.

He said: “There is perhaps a means by which to mutualise… future debt to enable countries… to access financing more easily on (money) markets.”

Suggesting this would allow governments to “finance investments”, the new Socialist president said that pooling liabilities for past debts was “unacceptable” but that eurobonds could help countries paying high borrowing costs, such as Spain and Italy.

Merkel said there had been a “balanced” discussion on eurobonds.

“There was a debate on the subject of eurobonds, but very balanced and with different points of view,” she said after the summit.

She said she had “explained the German position” and Hollande “said what he had already said previously, but there were broad differences”.

Several participants expressed doubts about the benefits of interest rates being unified across the eurozone, Merkel added.

Hollande said he was not alone at the EU table in favouring the introduction of eurobonds.

EU president Herman Van Rompuy said the subject was “briefly touched upon” by several leaders “in the framework of deepening the monetary and economic union”.

However, he stressed: “There was nobody asking for the immediate introduction of this.”

He underlined, as leaders begin preparing ideas for a growth pact ahead of a full summit on June 28-29: “We have to consider what the legal implications of all this are.”