Sarkozy rules out fiscal referendum


French president Nicolas Sarkozy said today if he is re-elected he would not hold a national referendum on the new European Union treaty on budget stability and economic governance.

Mr Sarkozy has proposed holding regular referendums on policy if he wins a second term in a two-round presidential election in April and May, but he said it would be difficult to put the EU fiscal compact to a public vote.

"No," he said, asked by French RTL radio if he would put the treaty to a referendum.

"If we're dealing with a treaty with 200 articles, 250 articles, I can't see how you'd formulate a clear question."He said a national plebiscite would only be effective on a European issue if it were clear cut, such as if a country were to put its membership of the euro to a vote.

Mr Sarkozy, who is between 1 and 6 points behind Socialist rival Francois Hollande in opinion polls for the April 22nd first round and 12 points behind in surveys for a May 6th run-off, said on launching his campaign in mid-February that he wanted to give the public a voice in domestic policy.

EU leaders are due to sign in March the fiscal compact pushed by France and Germany and approved in late January by 25 of the union's 27 members.

The pact will impose quasi-automatic sanctions on countries that breach EU budget deficit limits and enshrine budget rules in national law.