Far-right party launches SOS after election

19th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

SAINT CLOUD, France, June 18, 2007 (AFP) - French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen Monday launched a plea to bail out his National Front party, saddled with millions of euros in debt after a dismal electoral performance.

SAINT CLOUD, France, June 18, 2007 (AFP) - French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen Monday launched a plea to bail out his National Front party, saddled with millions of euros in debt after a dismal electoral performance.

"What is at stake is the survival of the FN, but also the interests of our people and our country," Le Pen told a press conference near Paris. "The FN's financial situation is very worrying."

Making a solemn appeal to party supporters and "French citizens mindful of the elemental rules of democracy," Le Pen said he was launching a national fund-raising drive dubbed "SOS National Front" aimed at hauling his party back from the brink.

The far-right National Front had its worst score in more than 25 years in this month's legislative elections, encouraging speculation that it is disappearing as a serious force in French politics.

With just 4.3 percent of the first round vote for the National Assembly, the party was back at levels of support not seen since the early 1980s. It had not fared so badly since its 0.3 percent in 1981.

The National Front is set to lose more than half of its state subsidy over the next five years, cut back in line with its lower score.

It also has to pay back between 3.0 and 4.5 million euros (4.0 to 6.0 million dollars) of debt racked up in campaign costs, since the French state will only reimburse candidates who score above the five-percent mark.

Le Pen said the party was planning to slash costs, including by shedding some of its 40 staff, but ruled out selling its headquarters in the upmarket Paris suburb of Saint Cloud.

The poor legislative result follows Le Pen's disappointing 10.4 percent in last month's presidential election -- a distinct comedown from his shock second place in the 2002 vote.

In a clear sign of the party's failing fortunes, only one candidate -- Le Pen's daughter Marine -- managed to qualify for the second round of the vote on Sunday, where she was easily knocked out by a Socialist rival.

Five years ago, 37 National Front candidates passed the 12.5 percent barrier to enter the second round against the mainstream right and left. In 1997, the figure was 134.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French News

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