François Hollande admitted his government was struggling with a collapse in economic growth and rising unemployment, but insisted he was acting to resolve France's problems during a televised interview on Sunday night.
He announced swingeing cuts in public spending and increased taxes on large businesses.
The French president said his Socialist government was in a "combat situation" but insisted it had not wasted its time since taking power in May.
"We have acted quickly," he said in an interview aimed at responding to critics who complain he has failed to address France's problems, and to halt his plunging popularity in the polls.
Unemployment, economic competitivity and historic debt were among the most pressing problems, he admitted.
"My goal is to put France back on its feet. I have to put this country back on its feet," Hollande said, adding that he aimed for results within two years.
Asked about the downgrading of predictions of France's growth rate, Hollande said his government would draw up a budget for 2013 based on only 0.8% growth – a figure considerably lower than had been hoped.
"During the presidential campaign I said I would manage the debt. €30bn has to be found. Discipline is necessary as well as support for growth."
Hollande announced a €10bn cut in public spending next year saying only education, security and justice ministries would be spared the axe.
"All other ministries will have to make a contribution. We will not spend a single euro more, not a single euro more in 2013 than we did in 2012," he said.
A further €10bn would be found in increased taxes and charges on "large companies" and a further €10bn from "well off" French households.
"I don't want to leave my successor and my children to pay for France's debt," he said, admitting they were "difficult and painful measures".
He insisted his government would impose a 75% rate of tax for those earning over €1m a year. Asked if sports stars and artists would be excluded he said: "There will be no exceptions".
"Everyone has to make an effort, play their part. We all have to be patriots. especially them [those earning over €1m a year]."
Asked about the decision of France's richest man Bernard Arnault, head of the luxury group LMVH, to seek Belgian nationality, he said: "He should have taken into account what it means to be French. We are a big country, with lots of advantages and history. We are proud to be French. We have to call on patriotism at this time … to ask for an effort in the battle against debt."
Questioned on his style of government, Hollande markedly avoided using the adjective "normal".
"I have my responsibilities. I have to set the goal and the rhythm and steps for getting there and I have done so, two years. It is my country that counts … in Europe and the world. The French are proud and confident; we have to mobilise."
"I am what I am."
"I prepared for this job for months. I accept all this responsibility. I anticipated this situation, it is worse because the crisis accelerated. I know where I'm going and I have told the French. I am sure if hope is there, we will be able to put France back on its feet… to live better in five years than we do today."
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