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Thursday, 24 June 2010

Sarkozy set to cut lavish Bastille Day garden party.

If reports in the French media are confirmed, then the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, looks likely to cancel the annual garden party held at his official residence, the Elysée palace, to celebrate Bastille Day on July 14.

It's a move which is being interpreted by many here as the government wanting to be seen to be setting an example by tightening its own belt at a time when it's also likely to ask the French to face tax rises and spending cuts.

The news that the garden party is to be cancelled first appeared in the national daily Le Parisien-Aujourd'hui en France.

It hasn't yet been officially confirmed by Sarkozy's office, that's expected next week, but after the weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the government spokesman, Luc Chatel, gave every sign that newspaper reports weren't that far off the mark.

Chatel stressed the need for government ministers and their departments to be "exemplary" in times of fiscal austerity, according to the left-of-centre daily Libération.

"A lot has already been done and changes made in the way departments operate under this current administration," said Chatel

"It was Nicolas Sarkozy who called for the Elysée palace to have a fixed budget just like all the other state institutions, and to have its spending audited," he added.

While many English languages sources, including Britain's Daily Telegraph have been reporting that the decision marks "the first time the annual garden party has been cancelled since the French revolution" the event is in fact a relatively recent tradition.

The first garden party held in the grounds of the Elysée palace, took place in 1978 under the then-president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing.

Since then it has grown and last year's rather lavish affair saw Sarkozy and his wife play host to 7,500 invitees among them government ministers, ambassadors from other countries, foreign dignitaries and prominent French celebrities.

The total cost for staging the event was revealed to have been €732,826 or around €100 per person.

Bastille Day is a national holiday in France marking the storming of the Parisian prison of the same name in 1789 which sparked the French revolution.


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