Prime Minister pledges to modernize government

3rd July 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 3, 2007 (AFP) - Stepping out of President Nicolas Sarkozy's shadow, Prime Minister Francois Fillon announced plans on Tuesday to modernize France's institutions of government in his first policy address to parliament.

PARIS, July 3, 2007 (AFP) - Stepping out of President Nicolas Sarkozy's shadow, Prime Minister Francois Fillon announced plans on Tuesday to modernize France's institutions of government in his first policy address to parliament.

"We must renew our political democracy, modernize our social democracy, and support our intellectual and scientific excellence," said Fillon in the address before the newly-elected parliament.

Fillon said a "commission of leading figures whose credentials are unquestionable and representatives of our political diversity" will be asked to come up with proposals on modernising the institutions.

These would include a strenghtening of the powers of parliament by appointing opposition members to key committees and examining changes to the voting system to allow proportional representation.

The address marked a rare opportunity for Fillon, who was appointed by Sarkozy after he trounced Socialist Segolene Royal in the presidential election in May, to shine.

French media commentators have remarked that Fillon has been left with little room to exercise his authority given Sarkozy's strong presidency and high-powered entourage.

Fillon, 53, served as Sarkozy's political adviser during the presidential campaign, his low-key demeanour often described as complementary to the rightwing leader's hyper-active personality.

Speaking to the new parliament dominated by the governing UMP party, Fillon called for a new "political, social and cultural contract" for France that would fundamentally change politics.

Fillon reiterated Sarkozy's electoral promise to bring unemployment down to five percent by 2012, down from its current rate of 8.1 percent, one of the highest jobless rates in Europe.

He also served notice that France would defend its farming sector in negotiations with the World Trade Organization and said "reciprocity" would be at the forefront of its concerns in talks on other sectors.

Fillon also announced plans to boost funding for universities, significantly increase funding for research and development and build more low-cost housing.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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