Agence France Presse, Expatica.com, Feb. 22
MARSEILLE, France-France’s veteran far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen has been barred from standing in next month’s regional elections in the south of the country, after a court ruled Sunday that he failed to prove he has a residence there.
With lists due to close Monday for candidates for the March 21 and 28 polls, the ruling meant that Le Pen, 75, is frustrated in his ambition to become president of the southern region of Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur (PACA).
The administrative court in Marseille confirmed a decision by the region’s prefect-or governor-who said that the address in Le Pen’s submission to the electoral authorities was the regional headquarters of his National Front party and not his own home.
Under French law a candidate must be domiciled for tax purposes in the region where he or she intends to stand.
Le Pen, who shocked France when he took second place in presidential elections in 2002, warned last week that the attempt to disqualify him was another sign of the political establishment seeking to exclude him from power.
“If the tribunal fails to answer my request, there will be someone else to take up the flag and lead the battle. Whatever the decision, I will stay in the battle-from one end to the other-right up to March 28,” he said.
The ruling meant that the National Front has only a few hours in which to put forward an alternative candidate.
The regional elections are a key mid-term test for the centre-right government of Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, and commentators have said they could lead to more gains for the party.
With a strong message denouncing immigration and the political elite, the party has been helped by the conviction for illegal party funding of former prime minister Alain Juppe-a close aide of President Jacques Chirac-as well as the recent focus on Islamic headscarves in schools.
Situated along the Mediterranean between the Italian border and Marseille, the PACA region has long been Le Pen’s electoral heartland, awarding him 23.5 percent of the vote in the first multi-candidate round of the 2002 presidential race.
He has been foiled in previous attempts to become the regional president by agreements between the mainstream parties of left and right to back a single alternative candidate.
AP, Newsday.com, Feb. 23
PARIS — Far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, who stunned France by qualifying for a one-on-one runoff against Jacques Chirac in presidential elections in 2002, is considering another run in 2007, a spokesman said Monday.
Le Pen has decided to remain in politics though he was disqualified for France’s regional elections on grounds he doesn’t live in the southern area where he wanted to be a candidate.
“It is not at all his funeral,” said Alain Vizier, referring to the court ruling Sunday that rendered Le Pen ineligible for the March regional elections.
Asked if Le Pen, now 75, will run for president in 2007, Vizier replied: “In theory, if everything goes well, yes.”
Le Pen’s platform calls for deporting illegal immigrants, withdrawing from the European Union, bringing back the death penalty and abolishing abortion.
The veteran National Front leader, who has often been accused of racism and anti-Semitism, also plans to run in European Parliament elections in June, said Vizier, the party spokesman. Le Pen has previously held a seat at that legislature.
A court in the southern city of Marseille ruled Sunday that the anti-immigration leader cannot run in southern France in the regional election because he didn’t prove he has residency in the area.
Le Pen had hoped to run for president of the Provence-Alpes-Cotes d’Azur council in the two-round election being held March 21-28. He lives outside Paris but listed a campaign office in Nice as another home to try to gain residency in the region.
That bid foiled, Le Pen will campaign for other candidates, said Vizier.
Le Pen’s critics believe the National Front orchestrated his ineligibility to make it look as though French officials were persecuting him. They say that Le Pen, who founded his party in 1972, should have known the rules.
After Le Pen qualified for the runoff against the incumbent Chirac in 2002, horrified voters rallied behind Chirac in the second round and gave him a resounding 82 percent of the votes.