Jean-Marie Le Pen confident of reaching round two

4th April 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 4, 2007 (AFP) - Far-right French presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen said in an interview Wednesday he was certain he could repeat his performance of 2002 and qualify for the runoff.

PARIS, April 4, 2007 (AFP) - Far-right French presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen said in an interview Wednesday he was certain he could repeat his performance of 2002 and qualify for the runoff.

The 78-year-old also said he would make "jam" of the euro, end immigration, and deregulate the economy but slap heavy taxes on imports if he is elected president next month.

"The opinion polls were giving me 10 percent of voting intentions, and now I'm at 13 or 14 percent. I'm extrapolating," he told Le Monde newspaper. The first round of this year's election is on April 22, with the second two weeks later.

Le Pen scooped 17 pecent in the first round in 2002, taking him through to a shock runoff against incumbent Jacques Chirac, which he lost. 

This time, he said, both his main rivals, the rightwing Nicolas Sarkozy and the Socialist Segolene Royal, have sensed there was widespread rejection of the system and both are trying to appeal to voters who would otherwise vote for him.

"My adversaries sense this evolution and are trying to run after me and are reinforcing me," he said.

Asked what he would do as president about the European single currency, to which he has been implacably opposed, he said would "make jam of it."  

"The euro was established because they wanted to make a supranational state," an idea that went awry when French and Dutch voters rejected the European constitution in 2005, he said.

He also told Le Monde he would ease France's notoriously rigid rules for hiring and firing workers, but would also impose heavy import duties on foreign goods.

He would for example slap a 30-percent tax on Chinese textile imports.

A former Foreign Legionnaire who served as an intelligence officer in Algeria and as a paratrooper in Indochina, Le Pen has been the champion of the far right for 35 years.

Asked by Le Monde who his political role model was, he named Georges Clemenceau, who led France to victory in World War I.

He said he chose him "because he was a patriot and a stubborn old bugger."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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