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Independent: Le Pen tempers racism in fifth presidential bid

Moving away from blunt racism, the French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen folded a flavour of save-the-planet evangelism into his rhetoric yesterday as he launched his fifth bid for president.

But M. Le Pen, whose daughter Martine is credited with softening his image, may not be able to run in the 22 April first round. He has not yet secured the 500 endorsements from elected officials that are required before he can stand.

Speaking to 2,500 supporters in Lille, M. Le Pen, 78, for the first time brought environmental issues into his campaign, though the underlying message was still laced with allusions to the ills of immigration and the collusion against him by "the cartel of ministers and ex-ministers who have governed us for 30 years".

In an appeal to the far left, he called on France's "seven million" poor people to "wake up to the global tragedy" caused by "planetary financial capitalism led by a few predators whose only target is double-digit profit in a nation called Money". Departing from his usual anti-foreigner rhetoric, he said: "We shouldn't blame immigrants for these policies. Those who bear the exclusive responsibility are French politicians [of the mainstream parties] who are today represented by the candidates [Ségolène] Royal, [Nicolas] Sarkozy and [François] Bayrou.

"It is they and the parties which have governed France, sometimes alone, sometimes in cohabitation; all of them responsible, all of them guilty," he said at the Palais des Congrès.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 26th, 2007 at 12:23:50 AM EST
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