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Parliament closer to probing Sarkozy's appetite for polls

Video by Christopher MOORE , Catherine VIETTE

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-11-11

A bid by France's left-wing opposition to have parliament investigate a flurry of opinion polls commissioned by the French presidency has cleared a first hurdle after the speaker of the lower chamber said he would not hinder the move.

The speaker of the National Assembly, the French parliament’s lower house, has said he will not block moves to set up a parliamentary committee to investigate opinion polls commissioned and financed by the French presidency. 

The move by Bernard Accoyer, a member of the ruling UMP party, won plaudits from the Socialist opposition, who had called for an investigation after an independent regulator criticised the Elysée, France’s presidential palace, in July for financing surveys that were then published in the press. 

The head of the Socialist group in the Assembly, Jean-Marc Ayrault, said it was now up to the parliament’s law commission to set up the committee. But analysts say the commission, which is also presided by the UMP, may seek to limit the scope of the inquiry. 

Calls to investigate the presidency’s expenses met with stiff opposition from UMP party members and ministers in President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government.

In a letter to Accoyer, France’s defence secretary, Michèle Alliot-Marie, had claimed that the creation of a committee was contrary to the country’s constitution. 

After an audit in October, the Elysée gave parliament members access to the bills for polls commissioned in 2008 and 2009. According to a report by Socialist MP Jean Launay, the budget for surveys reached 3.281 million euros in 2008 and just under 2 million euros this year.

 

Date created : 2009-11-10

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