Mayor to back highest bidder in presidential race

8th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

CAEN, France, March 7, 2007 (AFP) - A French mayor tired of being harassed by would-be presidential candidates hunting for sponsorships to qualify for the race, has decided to auction his backing to the highest bidder.

CAEN, France, March 7, 2007 (AFP) - A French mayor tired of being harassed by would-be presidential candidates hunting for sponsorships to qualify for the race, has decided to auction his backing to the highest bidder.

"I have been approached by a whole lot of candidates, especially small ones who have never managed to get past the 500-signature mark," Andre Garrec, the right-wing mayor of the Normandy village of Noron-la-Poterie, told AFP.

Would-be candidates for the April-May election need to collect 500 signatures from mayors and other elected officials by March 16 to be declared eligible for the race -- a system designed to weed out frivolous candidacies.

Many candidates, including the far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen and the far-left contender Olivier Besancenot, are racing against the clock to secure the full number, making each mayor's signature a precious commodity.

"I told myself that a sponsorship did not mean a political commitment, and so I decided to take a cheque from the highest bidder," Garrec said.

Garrec said he would accept a "cheque from any candidate" between now and March 16, and would use the money to fund three sports and cultural associations and the village nursery school.

In another sign of the rush for sponsorships, a fringe candidate was remanded in police custody on Wednesday on suspicion of tricking mayors into giving him their backing.

Nicolas Miguet of the French taxpayers' party is suspected of sending out bogus guides to the sponsorship process, asking mayors to post their signatures to a fake government address in Paris.

Right-wing presidential frontrunner Nicolas Sarkozy called Tuesday on mayors and officials who are not members of political parties to give Le Pen and Besancenot the signatures they need, saying it would be undemocratic if they are unable to run.

Le Pen, 78, is accredited by opinion polls with between 12 and 14 percent of the first round vote, in fourth place behind Sarkozy, the socialist Segolene Royal, and the centrist Francois Bayrou. Besancenot, 32, is credited with around two percent.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article