We are at about a two-month distance from the first round of the French presidential elections, and one major candidate is about to declare his intentions to run while another is complaining about lacking the 500 mayoral sponsors needed to get on the ballot.
The predictions are that French President Nicolas Sarkozy will declare his candidacy midweek in a television broadcast after a few more photo ops, including a solar energy factory, all paid for by the French taxpayer.
As president, his trips are on the house once he declares it is a political expense. However, now that the Socialists are protesting to the National Campaign Finance Commission and the ploy of the unannounced candidacy is wearing thin, Sarkozy will declare his intentions. To be fair, former French incumbent presidents from Charles DeGaulle to Jacques Chirac announced their candidacy between one month to two months before the first round, and therefore Sarkozy is no exception. His party, the Union for a Popular Majority, has already booked a hall in Marseille for Friday night that will serve as the backdrop for the formal announcement, or as Sarkozy calls it, his rendezvous with the voters.
Meanwhile, Marine Le Pen of the National Front, is claiming that she lacks the minimum number of sponsors required for getting onto the ballot. Francois Bayrou of the Democratic Movements tried to make a show of fair play and asked the major parties to consult and see how they could solve the problem. He found no takers for his proposition.
Some claimed that it would have the appearance of a backroom deal. Others said that such a fix had to wait for the next elections as one could not change the rules in the middle of the game. Others even accused Le Pen of crying wolf in an attempt to drum up sympathy. Le Pen herself claimed that she would not appeal for assistance. "It is not myself that I defend, but the millions of Frenchmen whom someone is seeking to have disappear in this presidential election."
Bayrou, the centrist Democratic Movement candidate, can be generous about Le Pen because his electoral base is primarily urban middle class and higher, which is not the vote that Le Pen is targeting. Le Pen is drawing votes from both the right who believe that the president has not redeemed his promises on immigration as well as from the left by promising to reduce the salaries of elected officials and trim the number of parliamentarians in both the Senate and the National Assembly.
She would also do away with useless government agencies and thus save money. Her anti-European Union stance appeals both to the right and left. Therefore neither the UMP nor the Socialists have an interest in getting her on the ballot.