Le Pen ineligible for S France elections
MARSEILLE, France, Feb 18 (AFP) - France's top official for the French Riviera on Wednesday rejected a bid by far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen to lead his anti-immigration National Front party in regional elections there next month.
A former supporter of Le Pen turned rival, Bruno Megret, was also declared ineligible to run in the northern Champagne region by officials there.Le Pen, who made a surprise second-place showing in presidential elections against Jacques Chirac in 2002, was unable to provide tax records to prove he resided on the Riviera.
But Marseille prefect Christian Fremont said in a statement his decision could be revised if Le Pen came up with such records by the end of next week.
The gruff far-right politician could also appeal the rejection in two successively higher courts, although a final verdict would have to be made before the elections, scheduled to take place March 21 and 28.
Mainstream politicians and the left-leaning Le Monde newspaper have speculated that Le Pen may have set himself up to be barred from a place on the Riviera election list in order to portray himself as a victim of political machinations and to generate media attention.
His party’s candidates might then go on to benefit in the elections, particularly as the generally older population on the Riviera has shown itself in the past to be receptive to Le Pen’s anti-immigration rhetoric.
Subject: France news