This photo dated Oct. 22, 2011 shows then French Socialist Party candidate for the 2012 presidential elections Francois Hollande, at a nomination ceremony, in Paris, with French actress Julie Gayet in background, top right. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
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Business leaders on Wednesday hailed promises by French President Francois Hollande to cut taxes and spending, but the left accused him of lurching to the right.Government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem played down the "media uproar" and dismissed accusations of a possible conflict of interest, saying Gayet had been part of a "perfectly innocuous procedure" and was a legitimate candidate.During his press conference Hollande focused on reviving France's beleaguered economy, laying out a "social democratic" vision at odds with election promises to boost spending and crack down on the rich.Hollande also promised to reduce France's notorious red tape and appeared to be trying to repair his anti-business reputation, though he did say companies would be required to increase employment in exchange for liberalisation.In a rare show of positive coverage for Hollande, French newspapers were brimming with praise after his press conference.Hollande admitted that the couple were going through "painful moments" but said it was a personal matter that would be dealt with privately.
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