Tag Archive: Marine Le Pen

Francois Hollande (left) and Nicolas Sarkozy

Francois Hollande (left) is mounting a strong challenge against President Sarkozy

France is set to vote in a presidential election amid widespread disaffection caused by the eurozone crisis and high unemployment.

Centre-right incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy is seeking re-election, saying only he can preserve a “strong France”.

But he is facing a tough challenge from Socialist Francois Hollande, who has said it is “the left’s turn to govern”.

There are 10 candidates in all, and if none wins more than 50% of the votes there will be a run-off round on 6 May.

Polls in mainland France and Corsica will be open from 08:00 to 18:00 (06:00-16:00 GMT), with voting stations in big cities remaining open for another two hours.

The first official results will be released after the last stations close at 20:00 (18:00 GMT).

President Sarkozy, who has been in office since 2007, has promised to reduce France’s large budget deficit and to tax people who leave the country for tax reasons.

He has also called for a “Buy European Act” for public contracts, and threatened to pull out of the Schengen passport-free zone unless other members do more to curb immigration from non-European countries.

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“Start Quote

The political rivals are keen to demonstrate that history is on their side”

image of Chris MorrisChris MorrisBBC News, Paris

Mr Hollande, for his part, has promised to raise taxes on big corporations and people earning more than 1m euros a year.

He wants to raise the minimum wage, hire 60,000 more teachers and lower the retirement age from 62 to 60 for some workers.

If elected, Mr Hollande would be France’s first left-wing president since Francois Mitterrand, who completed two seven-year terms between 1981 and 1995.

French presidents are now elected for five years.


Wages, pensions, taxation, and unemployment have been topping the list of voters’ concerns.

But the candidates have been accused of failing to address the country’s problems during a lacklustre campaign.

Frustration with Mr Sarkozy’s flashy style and with Mr Hollande’s bland image has also allowed radical candidates to flourish.

Marine Le Pen, a media savvy far-right leader, has invigorated her anti-immigration National Front.

Meanwhile Jean-Luc Melenchon, who is supported by the Communist Party, has galvanised far-left voters.

Centrist leader Francois Bayrou is standing as a presidential candidate for the third time. In 2007, he came third, with nearly 19% of the vote.

Voting was held on Saturday in France’s overseas territories – including Martinique and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean and French Polynesia.

Those territories vote early because results will be known on Sunday evening in mainland France – when it is still mid-afternoon in Caribbean islands and other overseas territories.

The presidential vote will be followed by a parliamentary election in June.

Are you in France? How are you feeling about the presidential election? Please send us your comments and experiences.



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National Front leader Marine Le Pen (9 March 2012)Marine Le Pen had said she was struggling to win enough endorsements

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen says she has secured the support of the 500 elected officials necessary to stand in the French presidential election.

The National Front candidate, who is third in the opinion polls, said last week she was struggling to find enough endorsements to enable her to stand.

The latest poll, by Ifop, puts President Nicolas Sarkozy ahead for the first time in the campaign.

But it gives Socialist rival Francois Hollande victory in the second round.

According to the poll, for Europe 1 and Paris Match, Mr Sarkozy would win 28.5% of the vote in the first round on 22 April, while Mr Hollande gets 27% and Ms Le Pen 16%. Centrist candidate Francois Bayrou is on 13%.

But it suggested that Mr Hollande would win the second round in May by a margin of 54.5% to 45.5%.

‘The system lost’

Ms Le Pen had admitted last week that she was having trouble picking up the necessary 500 endorsements before this Friday’s deadline, while candidates with far less popular support had relatively little trouble.

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image of Christian FraserChristian FraserBBC News, Paris

Whatever opinions people hold about Marine Le Pen and the reform, or not, of her party, most French commentators agree it is only proper in a democracy that a party like hers is able to run.

Particularly one that now enjoys up to 18% of the vote.

But all French presidential candidates must have the signed endorsement of 500 elected local officials, of which there are 42,000 in France.

With Friday’s deadline for signatures looming, Ms Le Pen had been sounding increasingly desperate. Some said she had feigned the panic to appear the victim.

Regardless, she is now in the race. And on the right she poses a big threat to President Sarkozy re-election chances.

In 2002 her father was polling less than she is now – and he won through to the second round, knocking out the Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.

“I have my 500 signatures and therefore I will be a candidate in the presidential election,” she told Reuters news agency on Tuesday. The National Front leader is expected to make an official declaration later in one of her electoral strongholds – the Pas de Calais in northern France.

She later tweeted her thanks to the mayors and activists who had supported her, repeating her view that the establishment had tried to stop her candidacy: “The system that wanted to prevent me has just lost a battle.”

Last month, she failed to persuade France’s highest court, the Constitutional Council, to overturn the system of public endorsements by officials, in favour of anonymity.

Ms Le Pen has called for a 95% cut in annual immigration but has also broadened her party’s traditional anti-immigration agenda to include a call to abandon the euro.

‘Grotesque’ allegation

Meanwhile, Mr Sarkozy has vehemently denied an allegation that deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi provided millions of euros of campaign funding before the 2007 presidential election.

During the Nato-led air strikes on Libya last year, Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam claimed that Libya had helped finance Mr Sarkozy’s campaign, an allegation rejected at the time by the Elysee palace.

Investigative website Mediapart published on Monday a memo dating back to December 2006 that referred to the “modalities of the fin[ancing] of the campaign NS settled during the visit to Libya of NS + BH 6th Oct 2005”.

President Nicolas Sarkozy with French TV journalist Laurence Ferrari (12 March 2012)Mr Sarkozy ridiculed the allegations during an interview on French TV

The Mediapart memo, written by private operative Jean-Charles Brisard, was said to have been based on conversations he had had with a doctor of French-Lebanese arms dealer Ziad Takieddine.

According to Mediapart, the initials in thedocument, which has not been verified, refer to Mr Sarkozy, former interior minister Brice Hortefeux and also Mr Takieddine, who it alleged had organised the funding.

Mr Takieddine denied the allegations on France 24 TV, insisting that the whole story was based on “lies”. “Nothing of this happened. There was not one bit of any finance from Libya to France or from Gaddafi to Sarkozy. Nothing.”

Appearing on French TV channel TF1 on Monday night, Mr Sarkozy said “it’s grotesque and I am sorry that I am being interrogated about declarations of Gaddafi or his son on a major channel like TF1”.

“If he had financed it, I wasn’t very grateful,” he said.

Rounding on the journalist, Laurence Ferrari, the president added that he was sorry that she should act as “Gaddafi’s son’s spokeswoman”.


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