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Le Pen says waiting for Sarkozy's answers about cabinet jobs before endorsing

posted 26 Apr 2012, 03:49 by Mpelembe

Far-rightist Marine Le Pen says she is waiting for French President Nicolas Sarkozy's answers to whether he will include National Front ministers in his potential cabinet, Sarkozy courts National Front voters but refuses formal pact.

PARIS, FRANCE (APRIL 26, 2012) (REUTERS) - French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who swept almost a fifth of the vote in the presidential election first round, left the door ajar for Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday (April 26), saying she was still waiting for answers from him before giving instructions to her voters.

After far-right leader Marine Le Pen took third place in the election's first round last Sunday, achieving her National Front party's best-ever score in an election, both Sarkozy and Socialist frontrunner Francois Hollande have sought to charm her supporters into backing them.

Sarkozy's overtures have been more overt, saying that he respects National Front voters and does not blame them for their choice, while Hollande has said he understood voters who wanted to express their frustration in a crisis.

"I am waiting for Nicolas Sarkozy, President-candidate and for the Secretary General of UMP Jean-Francois Cope to respond to it: In case of a runoff between the National Front and a Socialist, will (Sarkozy's) UMP party and the President prefer to have a Mariniste (FN) deputy or a Socialist deputy elected? (Does everything depend on this question?) It's not that everything depends on this question. It's a question that my voters want to know," Marine Le Pen told RTL radio.

An opinion poll showed two-thirds of Sarkozy supporters want him to break with past policy and strike an alliance with the Front after Le Pen's 17.9 percent score on Sunday made her 6.4 million backers key to a May 6 presidential runoff.

The National Front party believes it can win seats in parliament for the first time since 1986, when a brief experiment with proportional representation gave it 35 deputies.

Based on Sunday's results, in which Marine Le Pen came third with 17.9 percent, the National Front party could reach the second round in up to 345 constituencies, more than half of the 577 seats in the parliamentary election, splitting the right-wing vote.

Le Pen has said she would give her view of the second round choice at a rally on May 1, but senior aides have made clear she was highly unlikely to endorse either candidate.

However, conservative Sarkozy ruled out any deal with Le Pen to give the far-right cabinet jobs or help them win seats in parliament, but has yet to say what he would advise for the parliamentary elections in June.

"At no point have I come to an agreement with Mr (Jean-Marie) Le Pen. At no moment, in no condition. I debated with him five times and if you listen to Marine Le Pen, she is more critical towards me than towards Francois Hollande. Because I think, there exist between us, certain differences. I am for a strong France, not for a weak France. A strong France is not afraid, it doesn't make out foreigners to be guilty. I am opposed to the re-establishment of the death penalty and there are several other things because of which I will not come to an agreement with them. The question of the participation of ministers from the National Front, is not even brought up, everybody knows it. So why are these questions asked?" he told France Inter Radio on Thursday.

"It's because we do not agree, so I won't do it. I will not come to an agreement with them. Period. I have never done it, I don't intend to start it now," he added.

Several of Sarkozy's top cabinet members and advisers have ruled out any alliance with the National Front, although that in itself does not rule out the possibility of Sarkozy's party letting the FN fight solely against the Socialist party in certain constituencies.