THE JOKE WAS RUNNER-UP LAST ELECTION:

No longer a joke – France is having to take Le Pen’s threat seriously (Henry Samuel, 13/11/2006, Daily Telegraph)

An IFOP poll in this weekend’s Le Monde showed that 18 per cent of the French say they will “definitely” vote for the National Front chief.

That is nine points more than at the same period before the 2002 election, in which he horrified Europe by coming second to Jacques Chirac.

Mr Le Pen is convinced that his fifth presidential campaign since 1974 – and probably his last – will end in the ultimate electoral earthquake in April’s elections: “My goal is not the second round, it’s the third: the presidency,” he said as he prepared the formal launch of his presidential campaign in Le Bourget, on the outskirts of Paris, yesterday. […]

The former paratrooper’s cause has been helped by a mood of introspective nationalism sweeping France, rocked by last year’s suburban riots, a surprise No vote in a referendum on the European constitution and profound disillusionment in its politicians.

His virulent anti-immigration stance, promise of “national preference” but also defence of French sovereignty by, for example, bringing back the Franc, have struck a chord.

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