French Socialists Begin To Take Le Pen Candidacy Seriously
There are less than 100 days to the French presidential election. The assumption that the Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande would defeat the incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy is still holding up well in polls, but that implied that Hollande would reach the second round. This was originally regarded as a certainty. If Mr. Hollande did not make it into the second round, there would be a replay of the socialist nightmare of 2002.
Up to now the assumption was that if Marine Le Pen scored an upset and made it into the second round, as her father John Le Pen did its 10 years earlier, it would come at the expense of Nicolas Sarkozy.
Now, all of a sudden, the Socialists are getting edgy because Hollande is dropping in the polls while for the first time some polls show Le Pen breaking the resistance line of 20%. What is worse, due to the stigma still attached to voting for Le Pen's National Front, there is apprehension that there may be an iceberg effect present, hiding the fact that support for Le Pen is actually higher, but that the pollsters are not catching it as voters refuse to give them a straight answer.
Hollande himself has complained that the vote for Le Pen has become an almost normal action rather than a sacrilege. Accordingly the Socialists are planning to expand their election campaign to counter Le Pen as well as to attack Sarkozy, whom they blame for "weakening Republican defenses" against the Le Pen message, for example, on the issue of national identity, where Sarkozy has warned against Islamist inroads.
Le Pen has stepped up her attacks on the European Union, has promised to quit the EU and the euro. She is counting on the majority that rejected the European Constitution in 2005 only to have it foisted on them via the back door by the parties represented by her two opponents.
Le Pen presents herself as the one French nationalist fighting two globalists. A France that had departed the European Union would no longer have to expend her treasure on prop-up countries like Greece, and this would represent a savings of €200 billion. By barring the door to immigration, France would save an additional €41 billion.
Economic think tanks have already gone to work to puncture Le Pen's economic figures and argue that the French economy would contract severely if France left the EU and went back to the French franc.
Le Pen, however, has the advantage of appearing to offer a pain-free economic policy that will be devoted to French interests. Her opponents are seen as propping up the European Union, an organization that France no longer dominates now that it plays second fiddle there to Germany.