Le Pen vows to stay on as National Front leader

24th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 24, 2007 (AFP) - French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen on Thursday said he planned to stay on as leader of the National Front party despite his poor showing in the presidential election.

PARIS, May 24, 2007 (AFP) - French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen on Thursday said he planned to stay on as leader of the National Front party despite his poor showing in the presidential election.

Le Pen, 78, had been expected to step down due to his age and pave the way for a new leader of the party that has been a fixture of French politics for 35 years.

"There will be a congress in November and I will then present my candidacy," Le Pen told RTL radio, adding that he was confident of winning a new mandate.

"The head of the National Front remains uncontested for the time being."

Le Pen won 10.44 percent of the vote in the election, taking the fourth place, his worst score since he made his first run for the presidency in 1974.

It was a far cry from the 2002 election when the far-right leader stunned the nation by winning enough votes to beat Socialist Lionel Jospin and stand against Jacques Chirac in the runoff.

Acknowledging that his party had sufferd "a little blow" from this year's election outcome, Le Pen said he planned to nevertheless lead the National Front into next month's parliamentary elections.

The National Front currently does not hold any seats in the 577-member National Assembly.

President Nicolas Sarkozy's governing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party is expected to win a strong majority in the June 10-17 vote that would give the rightwing leader free rein to push through economic reform.

In the presidential election, Le Pen lost votes to Sarkozy whose campaign pledge to get tough on immigration and crime appealed to the far-right leader's supporters.

Le Pen had campaigned on a platform that called for halting immigration which he argued was threatening France's economy and way of life.

He accused Sarkozy of copying his ideas.


Copyright AFP

SUbject: French news

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