French PM pledges more tax cuts after far-right poll win

PARIS (REUTERS) - French Prime Minister Manuel Valls promised on Monday further tax cuts for low-earning and middle-class households, saying one reason for the rise in support for the National Front in weekend EU polls was anger at years of tax rises.

"We need more tax cuts ... there must be, because it (the tax burden) has become unbearable," Mr Valls told RTL radio when asked if such a move would be included in future budget plans to be unveiled at the end of the year.

"Until unemployment falls, until purchasing power rises, until taxes fall, the French won't believe us," added Mr Valls, who was promoted to prime minister by President Francois Hollande after his Socialists were routed in March municipal elections.

Mr Valls already announced earlier this month that his government planned to exempt 1.8 million households from income tax, at a cost to the state of 1 billion euros.

The Socialists were beaten into third place in Sunday's European Parliament elections, which the anti-immigrant, anti-euro National Front won with around 26 per cent of the vote. The conservative UMP opposition came second with around 21 per cent.

Mr Valls did not give any indication of the extent or timing of the new tax cuts being planned and how they fitted in with those already announced. Asked if his government would maintain its goal of shaving 50 billion euros (S$85 billion) from public spending over the next three years as part of efforts to bring its public deficit to within EU limits, he replied that it would be "absurd" not to.

"I announced this because not to do it would be absurd - to make the French bear the load of debt and deficit - but we have clearly to do it in the fairest way possible," he said.

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