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French Prefer Merkel To Sarkozy As Crisis-Fighter

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The French trust German Chancellor Angela Merkel more than their own president, Nicolas Sarkozy, to fend off another economic crisis, according to an opinion poll published on Thursday.

The poll, released a day after French bank shares plunged on market speculation about the country's finances, showed that 46 per cent of respondents backed Merkel and her team compared to 33 per cent for Sarkozy and his government.

Sarkozy also came in behind US President Barack Obama, who scored a confidence vote among 37 per cent in the online survey by Harris Interactive, which asked people to rate key leaders, institutions and economic entities as bulwarks against further financial and economic crises.

Sarkozy, who faces presidential elections in less than nine months, called key ministers back from summer vacation to talks in Paris on Wednesday and promised that everything would be done to deliver on France's deficit reduction targets -- a pledge designed to reassure markets and protect a top-notch credit rating that allows France to finance its debt cheaply.

Harris Interactive sounded out 1,090 people on August 8-10 in the poll published by the Le Parisien newspaper.

People were given a list of options to rate in terms of their credibility in preventing another financial and economic crisis.

The list included Merkel, Obama and Sarkozy, along with the International Monetary Fund and other more or less well-defined entities -- citizens, banks, traders, rating agencies, the G8 and G20, Europe and companies.

First on the confidence list was "citizens", second Merkel, third the IMF, fourth "companies", fifth Obama, sixth "Europe" and seventh Sarkozy.

Last on the list was "trader", second-last "banks", and third-last "ratings agencies". The G8/G20 groupings came fourth-last, behind Sarkozy.