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Fillon Says Socialist Election Win Would Damage French Economy

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon marked the fourth anniversary of Nicolas Sarkozy’s election as president with an attack on the opposition Socialists a year before elections that polls show the incumbent would lose.

“We have laid the base for a France that is more innovative, more solid, and more realistic in the face of globalization,” Fillon told reporters in Paris after a meeting with cabinet members to review their performance. “I don’t want to put it in the hands of a left that doesn’t understand the world as it is.”

France must hold presidential elections by next May, with polls showing Sarkozy running behind potential Socialist candidates and with some surveys even predicting he would be eliminated before the decisive round by the anti-immigrant National Front’s Marine Le Pen.

Fillon said today that the French economy is “entering a positive cycle” and that spurring growth while maintaining budget “discipline” was his priority.

Fillon said he’d maintain his pledge to cut the budget deficit to 3 percent of gross domestic product by 2013. A delay would “weaken” French finances, he said.

The Socialists said last month that if they return to power they won’t necessarily reach the 3 percent deficit target in 2013. Moody’s Investors Service affirmed France’s top AAA credit rating yesterday.

Fillon did admit some setbacks in Sarkozy’s four years in office, saying that the world economic crisis prevented him from reaching growth targets, that a law to limit taxes to half a family’s income was “misunderstood” and withdrawn, and that violent crime hasn’t fallen.

“We’ve had some setbacks, but no one can say we haven’t kept most of our commitments,” he said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Gregory Viscusi in Paris at gviscusi@bloomberg.net; Mark Deen in Paris at markdeen@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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