French far-right makes overture to conservatives

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen opened the door on Wednesday to cooperating with candidates from the embattled conservative UMP party

French far-right makes overture to conservatives

World Bulletin/News Desk

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen opened the door on Wednesday to cooperating with candidates from the embattled conservative UMP party in next month's legislative elections, but continued to rule out an alliance.

Le Pen, who won nearly one in five votes in last month's first round of the presidential election, said the National Front would consider striking deals not to run against UMP candidates on a case-by-case basis in the two-round election on June 10 and 17.

Outgoing President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party is increasingly divided over how to deal with the National Front heading into the legislative election after his loss in a presidential runoff on Sunday to Socialist Francois Hollande.

Building on momentum from Le Pen's strong showing in the first round of the presidential race, the National Front could split right-wing voters in the legislative election where far-right and UMP candidates are in the running against a Socialist candidate.

If candidates receive more than 12.5 percent of the vote in the first round, they move on to the second. Were the National Front, Socialists and UMP all to qualify, the ensuing three-way contest would be won by a simple majority.

Le Pen said that while she remained opposed to a blanket agreement to avoid National Front and UMP candidates running against each other, she was not in principle against talks with UMP politicians willing to deal with her party.

"We will have a look on a case-by-case basis, especially at the sincerity of UMP candidates who suggest a deal," Le Pen told weekly magazine Valeurs Actuelles.

"I'm not in principle closed to this kind of discussion. We're ready to welcome any goodwill wherever it comes from," she added.

While the UMP's leadership has ruled out any alliance or even talks with the National Front, 54 percent of UMP supporters were in favour of a deal with the far-right party, according to an Ifop-Fiducial poll. Meanwhile, 77 percent of National Front supporters are in favour of a deal with the UMP.

The head of the UMP, Jean-Francois Cope, said that any deals the party's candidates make with the National Front on specific seats would be considered as going against the party line.

Sarkozy's UMP, formed to unify the centre-right in 2002 after National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen made it through to a presidential election runoff - has dominated the lower house of parliament for a decade and lost its Senate majority to the Left only last year.

Outgoing conservative Prime Minister Francois Fillon is expected to hand in his resignation on Thursday and it is likely that other cabinet ministers would follow.

With Hollande due to be sworn in on Tuesday, senior aide Pierre Moscovici said that the timing for naming his cabinet would be revealed on Thursday or Friday.

Hollande won the election runoff with 51.6 percent of the vote as voters punished Sarkozy for a stagnant economy, soaring unemployment and a showy style that grated on many.

However, the moderate Socialist also benefitted from a record number of people casting blank votes, which is usually done in France as a show of dissatisfaction with both candidates. Nearly 6 percent of the votes cast were blank.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 10 Mayıs 2012, 12:06

Muhammed Öylek