Sarkozy talks tough on immigration, tax

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Sarkozy talks tough on immigration, tax

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy went on prime time television Tuesday to address the French people after reshuffling his cabinet, laying out his conservative agenda ahead of a 2012 presidential vote.

The interview on three French channels was aimed at setting out Sarkozy’s political roadmap following the weekend reshuffle during which he renamed Francois Fillon as prime minister and as he assumes the leadership of the G20.

Speaking in the lavish surroundings of his Elysee Palace office, Sarkozy said that he wanted to clamp down on the numbers of immigrants coming to settle in France.

“If we do not manage immigration, we will bring about the collapse of our system of integration,” he said.

The president also promised not to hike taxes as means of closing France’s budget deficit.

“There will be no increase taxes. There will be cuts in spending,” Sarkozy said.

Sunday’s reshuffle resulted in a leaner, more conservative government, with several centre-right and left-wing ministers fired to produce a team more likely to fall in behind Sarkozy’s deficit-cutting austerity agenda.

The new cabinet has been criticised as “a campaign team” ahead of the early 2012 presidential election, and Sarkozy said he would only announce if he would stand or not in late 2011.