France austerity plan wins confidence

France’s Prime Minister Fillon delivers his government’s policy speech at the National Assembly in Paris

French Prime Minister François Fillon won over parliament Wednesday with a policy speech focused on budget cuts and continued economic reform. The policy speech was voted for 326 votes in favour and 226.

Fillon promised to cut France’s 7.7 percent budget deficit to six percent next year and predicted growth of more than 1.5 percent for this year.

He said President Nicolas Sarkozy’s programme of liberal economic reforms generates “oxygen” for the private sector while public sector budgets are being cut.

The prime minister defended the government’s track record, saying it had “successfully face down the worst series of disasters that the capitalist system can produce”.

Fillon was kept on as prime minister after a cabinet reshuffle last week. The new cabinet is more right wing than the previous cabinet, and left-wing politicians jeered during the speech.

“Why should we blush,” said Fillon. “Because we reformed the universities and pensions? Because we re-balanced our institutions, imposed minimum service during strikes, halted the slide into criminality?” rfi

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