French PM warns vote vs. fiscal pact would weaken Hollande

By REUTERS
September 2, 2012 22:36

 
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PARIS - French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault sought to rally a divided left behind the European Union's fiscal compact, arguing that anything but a strong endorsement would weaken President Francois Hollande and France itself.

The Socialists have a majority in both houses of parliament, so the treaty, which ties governments to deficit-cutting plans and is a condition of further steps to resolve the euro zone debt crisis, should pass.

But the vote could be tight, with at least one coalition member - the Green party - threatening to abstain and others on the left ambivalent about the pact, which Hollande himself once opposed.

"If we want Francois Hollande - because he will be returning this week to talk to our partners - to be strong, we must keep giving him strength," Ayrault said in an interview with France Inter radio.

"The slightest sign of parliamentary weakness, which would consist in not giving him a wide majority to ratify this new stage of integration, would mean weakening France itself."

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