In comments likely to raise hackles among ECB policymakers and in Berlin, Socialist Francois Hollande said that, since the central bank was not inclined to offer loans to governments, it should instead lend to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).
Tipped to easily beat incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in Sunday's election runoff, Hollande said in an interview with French media that, with its current policy, the ECB had chosen the most expensive way of supporting states.
It was lending at 1 percent to banks that could in turn pass those funds on Spain for close to 6 percent and to Italy for slightly less, he said.
"Either the European Central Bank should lend directly to states, which it refuses to do for the time being, or there is another option," Hollande told BFM TV and RMC radio.
"...Rather than the central bank lending to banks, it could lend directly to this (ESM)."