Le Pen may be Sarkozy slayer

Far-right leader tilts toward leftist

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Sarkozy has lost. He won’t be re-elected,” Ms. Le Pen said in a recent interview with the Associated Press.

Her party’s No. 2, Louis Aliot, said he would cast a blank ballot because Mr. Sarkozy has “insulted” the National Front. Speaking on France-Inter radio, Mr. Aliot predicted a “remaking” of the French right after the presidential election.

Ms. Le Pen’s party may campaign for parliamentary elections under a new name, Ms. Mayer said, noting that the National Front remains scarred by past fractures.

Ms. Le Pen “wants to change the image of the party to arrive in power herself,” Ms. Mayer said.

Ms. Le Pen has asked the UMP leadership to announce publicly whether it will endorse her candidates or Socialist ones in constituencies where a far right and leftist candidate face off in the parliamentary elections.

A candidate like any other

“From now on, nothing will be like it was before, millions of French people have lifted up their heads,” Ms. Le Pen said in a public letter Thursday addressed to Mr. Sarkozy and Mr. Hollande.

Mr. Sarkozy’s UMP party has long suffered internal divisions, and Mr. Sarkozy’s strategy of reaching to the far right has caused a deep rift, horrifying some.

A moderate member of the UMP, former Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, argued in an interview in Thursday’s Le Monde against any alliances with the National Front.

“I remain attached the humanist values of our plans,” he is quoted as saying.

Mr. Sarkozy also has shocked French media by treating Ms. Le Pen as a candidate like any other.

In the past, mainstream politicians kept their distance from the National Front, at least in public, because its leaders evoked uncomfortable memories of French collaboration with the Nazis.

Party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen has been convicted for saying the Holocaust wasn’t “particularly inhumane” and the gas chambers were a “detail of history.”

“Today, we are no longer in the era of World War II,” Ms. Mayer said.

Ms. Mayer said only a minority of Ms. Le Pen’s voters are truly on the extreme right, while the others supported her out of protest, out of fear of runaway immigration and out of fear of globalization.

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