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Hollande receives backing of German Social Democrat opposition leader

François Hollande with Sigmer Gabriel
François Hollande with Sigmer Gabriel Reuters/Fabian Bimmer

The leader of Germany's opposition Social Democrats, Sigmar Gabriel, has backed Socialist presidential candidate François Hollande and his bid to renegotiate the European Union's new budget pact. 

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Germany's conservative chancellor, Angela Merkel, has expressed opposition to any renegotiation of the pact, which is meant to encourage budget stability in a Europe hard-hit by the Greek debt crisis, and has openly backed right-wing French President Nicolas Sarkozy's reelection bid.

Speaking at a meeting on Saturday in Paris of members of European leftist parties, Gabriel said Hollande’s expected victory in the April and May two-round election against Nicolas Sarkozy would be "a signal of hope for Europe".

He said he supported Hollande in his pledge to renegotiate the EU's stability treaty to foster growth by encouraging large joint projects.

Hollande also met with Italian Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani. Earlier in the week, Slovakia’s leftist leader, Robert Fico, said Hollande’s views on the eurozone were close to his.

And Spanish Socialist Party leader Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba on Thursday hailed Hollande as the "great hope" of Europe's left.

Elsewhere, on recent visits abroad, Hollande was shunned by conservative leaders in Germany and Britain.

Meanwhile, victory for Hollande is not assured. With just over a month to go before the first round of the presidential vote, Sarkozy is closing the gap on Hollande.

Opinion polls show Sarkozy cutting his rival's lead after several weeks of campaigning and a swerve to the right, Hollande is also facing a new threat on his left flank from firebrand Left Front candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon.

 

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