Sarkozy woos popular support for reforms at home

16:13, February 11, 2011      

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France's President Nicolas Sarkozy gestures during a news conference at the end of a EU summit in Brussels February 4, 2011. (Xinhua/Reuters File Photo)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy took pains to explain his policies to ordinary citizens on Thursday, trying to win the hearts and minds of the people over domestic reforms amid his sinking approval ratings.

During the more-than-two-hour conversation with nine citizens from various walks of life, the embattled president elaborated on topics ranging from reforms of the judicial system to domestic security, the French economy's competitiveness, immigrants, employment, education and social welfare.

Sarkozy attributed France's slack labor market to impacts of the international financial crisis and the country's slowness to adjust to a competitive external environment.

The fiscal burdens on companies and high costs of labors have rendered employers unable to fully recruit, thus leading to France's fragile recovery, he explained.

Calling on French people to learn from Germans and work longer and demand less, the president also announced plans to mobilize half billion euros (680 million U.S. dollars) of the state's budget to improve employment by offering jobs and training skills.

On social welfare concerning medical reforms and aging populations, Sarkozy again stressed the creation of "a fifth branch of social security." The new organ, expected this summer, has been mentioned in Sarkozy's New Year greetings.

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