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National Front's Marine Le Pen will stand in French presidential election

Reuters / Philippe Laurenson

The leader of the French far-right National Front Party, Marine Le Pen, has secured the backing of enough local government officials to run in the two-round presidential election. She now has the required 500 signatures from local mayors and other elected officials to stand in the April-May vote. 

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"I have just spoken to her on the telephone and she confirmed it to me," lawyer Gilbert Collard, the head of Le Pen's supporters' committee, told France 2 public television.

Although opinion polls give Le Pen between 16 and 18 per cent of the national vote, there was speculation that few mayors or regional councillors wanted to take the political risk of associating themselves with her campaign.

France's Constitutional Council last month rejected Le Pen's plea to make the sponsorships anonymous.

All French presidential candidates must have the signed endorsement of 500 elected local officials - of which there are around 42,000 in France - by a 16 March deadline.

Opposition Socialist candidate Francois Hollande is currently tipped to beat President Nicolas Sarkozy in the two-round election to be held on 22 April and 6 May.

Marine's father Jean-Marie Le Pen repeatedly claimed that he would not be able to garner the 500 signatures necessary to stand for the presidency, but has been able to do so at every presidential election since 1988.

Meanwhile, Nicolas Sarkozy has moved ahead of his Socialist rival François Hollande, in the first round of the election with an opinion poll published in Le Figaro newspaper for the first time.

He is given 28.5 per cent of the votes as opposed to 27 per cent for Hollande.
 

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