French economist Piketty says no to France's top honour
Thomas Piketty, author of the popular book "Capital in the 21st Century", on Thursday refused to accept the country's highest award, the Legion d'honneur, to criticise the Socialist government in power.
"I have just learned that I was nominated for the Legion of honour. I refuse this nomination because I do not think it is the government's role to decide who is honourable," Piketty told AFP.
"They would do better to concentrate on reviving (economic) growth in France and Europe," added Piketty, who was once close to the Socialist Party but has distanced himself from the policies of President Francois Hollande.
Piketty was on the January 1 list of nominees for the prestigious award along with another economist, Jean Tirole, who won the Nobel Prize in economics this year.
Piketty has gained attention worldwide with his book of theories about growing economic inequality, which has sold some 1.5 million copies.
He has captured readers particularly in the United States, where Piketty has met with advisors to President Barack Obama.
The book has been less well received in France as Piketty has become a stern critic of the Hollande government.
He criticises the Socialist president for reneging on his campaign promise of fiscal reforms including a more progressive tax system.
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