Reforms will continue: French President

March 6th, 2008 - 7:43 pm ICT by admin  

Paris, March 6 (DPA) In comments published three days before municipal elections that could punish his party, French President Nicolas Sarkozy admitted that he had made mistakes, but declared that he would stick to his reform policies regardless of the outcome of the vote. In a wide-ranging interview that appeared Thursday in the conservative daily Le Figaro, Sarkozy said, “I have made mistakes. I don’t absolve myself of anything, but I don’t believe it is useful permanently to talk about the negatives.”

The interview was the first time in weeks when Sarkozy campaigned for the municipal elections, which will be held on March 9 and 16. He had originally planned to turn them into a referendum on his national policies, but changed his plans when his popularity began to plunge.

Polls suggest that the opposition Socialists are poised to make large gains in the elections, and could take control of France’s four largest cities - Paris, Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse.

Socialist mayors in Paris and Lyon are almost certain to win re-election, and polls suggest that Socialist challengers could defeat the incumbents from Sarkozy’s party in Marseille and Toulouse.

In the interview, Sarkozy admitted that his unpopularity could make his plans to initiate broad social and economic reforms more difficult.

“Of course, good polls facilitate reforms, and bad ones make it more difficult, but this will not change my policies,” he said.

A new poll, published Thursday in the daily Le Parisien, showed that only 38 per cent of the respondents had confidence in Sarkozy to deal with the major problems facing the country, a drop of 4 per cent over one month ago. Nearly six out of 10 said they did not have confidence in the president.

In the interview, Sarkozy also said that, regardless of the election results, he would not carry out a major re-shuffle of his cabinet following the vote.

“During my five-year term, there will be other opportunities and other occasions to make a political changeover,” he said. “The conclusion of the French presidency of the European Union (July 1 to December 31) will certainly be an important date.”

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