More than a quarter of French voters back Le Pen

14th December 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 14, 2006 (AFP) - More than a quarter of French voters support the far-right ideas espoused by Jean-Marie Le Pen, the National Front leader who is hoping to make a strong showing in presidential elections next year, a new poll released Thursday showed.

PARIS, Dec 14, 2006 (AFP) - More than a quarter of French voters support the far-right ideas espoused by Jean-Marie Le Pen, the National Front leader who is hoping to make a strong showing in presidential elections next year, a new poll released Thursday showed.

Twenty-six percent of the 1,000 adults questioned in the TNS Sofres survey said they were "completely" or "pretty much" in agreement with Le Pen's views on restricting immigration and defending France's "traditional values".

The proportion of people opposed to Le Pen's stance has fallen over the past year, to 70 percent (from 73 percent in 2005) — the lowest level since the mid-1990s.

Those scores suggested Le Pen was well-placed to compete in the April-May presidential elections against the field of 38 other candidates.

In the last elections in 2002, he surprised the country and Europe by knocking out all other candidates in the first round of voting except for incumbent conservative President Jacques Chirac.

Chirac went on to crush Le Pen in the knockout follow-up round when left-wing voters decided it was "better to vote for a crook than a fascist".

This time around, Le Pen trails well behind the two leading presidential contenders, the Socialist Party's Ségolène Royal and the ruling right's Nicolas Sarkozy.

But his influence can be seen in the programmes of both, suggesting a general shift to the right has occurred in French politics. Sarkozy, in particular, has adopted similar attitudes on immigration and on boosting public security.

The TNS Sofres survey found that only 34 percent of the French thought Le Pen's ideas were "unacceptable". That was a five-point drop from a year ago, an eight-point drop from 2003, and a 14-point drop from 1997.

Nearly half (47 percent), however, judged his ideology "excessive", compared to just 15 percent believed it to be "fair".

The number of people thinking the National Front was a "danger for democracy" has now slid to the lowest level since the early 1990s and stood at 65 percent.

Le Pen's opinion that "there are too many immigrants in France" met with record support — 59 percent agreed with him. But 77 percent disagreed with his view that French citizens be given preference over foreigners residing in the country legally.

His call for "traditional values" to be defended in France drew the support of 39 percent of those polled, while 53 percent disagreeing.

A third approved of his tough line against suburban violence, his views on security and justice, and his criticism of the political establishment.

The survey was carried out December 6-7.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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