Sarkozy 2012 or Taking campaign cues from the far-right’s HQ
The odds are stacked against Nicolas Sarkozy in the French presidential election. Every pollster here says he’ll finish second in the May 6 runoff against Socialist candidate Francois Hollande. The latest unemployment figures (March) are up, and to boot, European bank bosses are now saying that strict austerity rules, like the one championed by the French incumbent, are likely to bog down Europe in economic stagnation and even recession for years.
Under pressure, and desperate to renew his lease for the Elysee Presidential palace, Sarkozy has chosen one clear, it must seem the only, way forward: Start licking the boots of National Front (FN) candidate Marine Le Pen.
Yes, Le Pen and the glorious 18% support she won in the first round of the presidential race. Yes, the National Front, France’s far-right party, which despite its new blonde window dressing, remains a shop run by Nazi collaboration apologists, royalists and unabashed xenophobes.
In the widely viewed television program “Words and Actions” on French public television on Thursday, Sarkozy denied any marriage with Marine Le Pen. “I will forge no alliance with Mrs. Le Pen. No National Front minister [in a future cabinet]. It’s crystal clear.”
And he’s right! Why take on a National Front minister in your future government if you are already taking your campaign cues directly from FN headquarters?
Press release by Wallerand de Saint Just, member of the National Front’s executive bureau, emailed Thursday morning: “Marine Le Pen would like to remind that her programme calls for the implementation of the presumption of self-defense law for police.”
The press release was in reference to a controversial court case in France, in which a police officer could face stiff punishment for shooting a grenade-wielding youth in the back last weekend. Last January, Sarkozy’s government rejected the idea of implementing “presumption of self-defence”, arguing it was like giving police “open permission to shoot”.
Sarkozy speaking to a group of police officials and journalists on Wednesday afternoon: "I demand that the right to self-defence evolve in a way to further protect policemen… a presumption of self-defence law must exist.”
Open letter to Hollande and Sarkozy by Marine Le Pen, sent Thurday noon: “The votes I won were not a “cry for help”… Much less a “far-right” or “xenophobic” vote… gentlemen candidates, a few days of campaigning remain, and I ask you to show your respect.”
Sarkozy speaking on television a few hours later: “The 6.5 million French people who voted for Marine Le Pen. They are not on the far-right, they were expressing either despair or allegiance. I want to say to them, I respect you.”
The French incumbent then pounded on the FN bread and butter issue of immigration. Le Pen’s party first gained wide recognition in France for calling for a policy of “national preference,” that would reserve preferential treatment to French nationals over foreigners in all aspects of daily life.
Sarkozy on Thursday: “I am not for national preference, I am in favour of [European] community preference.”
Could the nuance be a wink to the far-right? Sarkozy elaborated: “I want to cut the number of immigrants we allow into our national territory by half… I want foreigners, in foreign consulates, to pass a test of the French language and of French values, before ever setting foot on French soil.”
No wink. That’s a page taken straight from the Le Pen playbook.