December 24, 2005

LE PEN DID QUITE WELL, AFTER ALL:

Sarkozy rebuts the critics who label him far-rightist (Agence France-Presse, DECEMBER 23, 2005

Nicolas Sarkozy, the French interior minister who has ambitions to become president in the 2007 election, hit back Friday at critics accusing him of far-right tendencies in a lively and direct interview with the newspaper Libération.

"I am a scrupulous republican, probably less narrow-minded than you," he told the left-leaning daily.

He dismissed recent campaigns against him as being too quick to draw parallels between him and Jean-Marie Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, or FN, for Sarkozy's vigorous crackdown on illegal immigration and his promotion of increased policing and law-and-order legislation.

Such campaigns included an AIDS activist group, Act Up, whose posters of Sarkozy's photo with the tag "Vote Le Pen" appeared in Paris this week.

Sarkozy said his firm policies on the right drew voters away from the more radical positions of Le Pen, who placed second in the first round of the 2002 presidential election, which was eventually won by Jacques Chirac.

"Who are the FN voters?" Sarkozy asked. "No doubt there is a small number of true fascists and racists, but the overwhelming majority are people who are crying out for help. They are afraid, feel abandoned.

"The fact that I am being heard by all these people should make you happy."

The simple reality is that he's not going to lose political popularity by being seen to have gays and Muslims for enemies.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 24, 2005 9:04 AM
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