Sarkozy's government claims deficit victory
PARIS—French President Nicolas Sarkozy says austerity measures helped shave billions more off the deficit last year than originally planned.
Government figures released Friday put the 2011 deficit at 5.2 percent, less than the forecast 5.7 percent.
But France has a long way to go to meet the European Union's 3 percent deficit limit.
France's overall public debt grew last year to (EURO)1.7 trillion, or 85.8 percent of GDP. Economic growth is forecast at just 0.7 percent this year, but France has so far avoided a new recession.
Sarkozy said France did "much better" than expected "thanks to the efforts of the French."
Sarkozy is in a tight race for re-election. The campaign has been dominated by pocketbook concerns, and many voters are angry at recent spending cutbacks and tax hikes.