'I am the Zorro of French politics': Le Pen

9th November 2006, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, Nov 9, 2006 (AFP) - The leader of France's far-right National Front on Thursday cast himself in the role of Zorro, ready to defend a disillusioned people from the political establishment in next year's presidential elections.

LONDON, Nov 9, 2006 (AFP) - The leader of France's far-right National Front on Thursday cast himself in the role of Zorro, ready to defend a disillusioned people from the political establishment in next year's presidential elections.

"I am the Zorro of French politics," Jean-Marie Le Pen said in an interview with the Financial Times in London.

"Zorro is the dispenser of justice whom you never see. Sometimes you hear his horse galloping past or see his shadow in the night."

Le Pen, 78, told the financial daily he is hoping to profit from a reported deep mistrust among French voters of "corrupt" politicians and dissatisfaction at their record in areas like law and order, immigration, social and employment reform.

In the last year, France has been hit by riots in its run-down suburbs and faced widespread dissent to new youth labour laws, while much of the political elite has been embroiled in a scandal about spies, smears and fake documents.

The FT itself considered that Le Pen could exploit the air of protectionism and nationalism embodied in France's rejection of the European Union constitution and the impression of a society "being at war with itself".

The politician — runner-up in the 2002 presidential election to incumbent Jacques Chirac — hinted as much himself.

"Almost all the people presenting themselves for the elections are in power or have been in power.

"My campaign slogan will be simple: why would you think that these people will do something tomorrow that they have been incapable of doing yesterday?"

Le Pen poured scorn on attempts by right-of-centre UMP leader Nicolas Sarkozy and the Socialists' Ségolène Royal to present themselves as outsiders from the system to bring about change, but said they were impostors.

"Ségolène Royal has been a deputy, a minister, a regional president, etc. She is one of the pillars of the system," he was quoted as saying.

"Mr Sarkozy is a good promoter, especially of himself. But he finds himself in an extremely ambiguous situation," said Le Pen.

"He is calling for a rupture with the policies he practices... He is an opposition candidate sitting as a government minister."

In 2002, Le Pen — currently facing charges of denying the horrors of the Nazi occupation of France — stunned the country and the world by making it into the run-off against Chirac, where he was roundly defeated by tactical voting.

He told the FT that his standing, boosted since the 2005 riots, could rise further between now and next May — even without the oxygen of publicity.

"I am a political enigma. I do not get on the radio, never on the television, hardly ever in the press ... and in spite of this, I get millions of votes.

"How can you explain that? If I had the same resources as the others, I could win a majority," he added.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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