Reuters International

Former French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron attends a political rally for his political movement, En Marche !, or, Forward !, in Strasbourg, France, October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler


By Michel Rose

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - France is sick because politicians throw taxpayers money at problems instead of addressing them properly, young presidential hopeful Emmanuel Macron will say on Tuesday as he sets out a first batch of ideas to reform the country's political system.

On the day the Socialist government ordered 21 high-speed trains in a pre-election bid to preserve jobs at a struggling locomotive plant, the former economy minister who quit this summer slammed the whole political class for failing to reform the country.

"The only way governments or would-be governments respond to ills these days is by seeking to lower the temperature... and that tends to mean public spending," Macron told reporters ahead of a rally in the eastern city of Strasbourg.

"With this approach you just constantly increase the public deficit. It has been like that for years, for decades we have built things with knee jerk action."

"We can't fix the real problems if we only cauterise and don't treat the roots of evil," he added.

The one-time investment banker who rose to prominence as an adviser to President Francois Hollande and then a minister in his government was addressing the first of three rallies outside Paris.

Although he has yet to say whether he will run for president in next year's elections, the rallies are his platform for unveiling his so-called "diagnosis" for the country.

Macron's aides said it was too early to announce a full manifesto, but that he wanted to use the results of a door-to-door campaign in which hundreds of volunteers collected voters' grievances this summer to first explain what he thinks is wrong in France.

In Tuesday's first instalment focused on the political system, the 38-year old will say he is in favour of introducing more proportional representation in electing France's lawmakers, even if that means letting in more far-right or far-left MPs.

He said he also wanted to speed up France's lawmaking process, make ministers more accountable to parliament, and possibly create a committee filled with randomly-chosen citizens who could grill the president regularly.

Since Macron resigned last August, government and opposition politicians have branded him a "traitor" and called his policies "populist light".

Hardly known to the public two years ago, he has risen to become one of France's most popular politicians.

With poll after poll showing far-right leader Marine Le Pen assured of getting to the second round but losing the runoff in May to whoever faces her, Socialists and conservatives realise Macron's pitch for the middle ground could cost them the remaining place.

(Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Andrew Callus)


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