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France's Hollande: Sarkozy underplayed budget woes

•, Associated Press

But Hollande, a Socialist elected Sunday to lead the world's fifth-biggest economy, said that wouldn't hurt his ability to fulfill campaign pledges. Those include higher taxes on the rich, thousands of new teaching jobs and freezes on some government spending.

And Hollande stuck to his own deficit reduction goals despite new European Union figures released Friday that paint a bleak picture for France and the whole eurozone.

"I have known for several weeks that there was a greater degradation than the outgoing government said there was. We conclude that this is a confirmation," Hollande told reporters in the central city of Tulle.

He said the new figures do not necessarily mean he has less room to maneuver after he takes office Tuesday. "No, we had already expected this," he said in remarks shown on French television.

He said he's asked for an audit of France's budget by the Cour des Comptes, budget watchdog. The audit is expected to be completed by late June.

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