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Africa

Gay marriage, tax hikes, votes for foreigners, Ayrault outlines change in France

media France's Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault delivers his speech Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

Gay couples in France will be allowed to get married and adopt children in the early months of 2013, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told the French lower house of parliament on Tuesday.

The move was promised by President François Hollande during his election campaign.

The French Prime Minister made the announcement when he outlined his new government’s programme in the traditional address to the Assemblée Nationale.

Parliamentary elections 2012

He appealed to the French people for support in tackling what he described as a “crushing debt” so that it would not remain a burden for future generations, adding that “an indebted France is a dependent France.”

As expected, he announced a series of tax reforms intended to boost government coffers, including a review of wealth tax, changes in VAT, higher income taxes for some, and an increase in capital gains tax but he insisted “No, I am not the enemy of money.”

Ayrault, gave his vision of Europe, whose “imperfect solidarity”, he said, allowed it to become prey to speculators.

He said he understood how the peoples of Europe had become disillusioned with the European Union and said it was time to change direction.

Europe, he said must “rediscover the audacity of its founding fathers and do for the economy what they had done for the sake of peace.”

A former secondary school German teacher, Ayrault insisted that the Franco-German partnership remained the foundation of Europe.

He also declared that the government aims to introduce a law allowing non-EU citizens living in France to vote in local elections (EU citizens already can).

There will be a yearly parliamentary debate on the number of immigrants allowed into France, but obtaining French nationality will be made easier for those who adhere to French values and fulfil the other necessary criteria.

Ayrault said France would defend human rights around the world and try to accompany countries on the path to democracy. He declared an end to France’s controversial relationship with its former colonies, known as Françafrique, (as have many French governments before this one.)

French president François Hollande campaigned for election with the slogan “The time for change is now”. On Tuesday, his prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told members of the Assembly that change would “take time” though it would be “lasting”.

 

 

 

 

 

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