The leader of the far-right Front National, Marine Le Pen, has announced she will abstain in the run-off vote to decide France’s presidential election.
Le Pen, who came third in the first round of voting, refused to endorse either of the two remaining candidates, centre-right Nicolas Sarkozy and leftist François Hollande.
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“I will give neither trust nor a mandate to these two candidates,” she told a rally in central Paris today, according to French network BFM TV. “On Sunday, I’ll vote blank.”
She did not instruct her supporters to follow suit, however, France Info radio reported.
“I have made my choice – each of us, each of you will make yours,” Le Pen said. “You are free citizens and you will vote as your conscience tells you, freely.”
The Front National has never yet endorsed another party’s candidate, according to France Info. The FN accuses France’s two biggest parties, the UMP and the Socialists, of unfairly dominating national politics.
Nonetheless, UMP candidate Sarkozy appeared to court far-right voters after the first-round ballot on April 22, in which he took 27.18 per cent to Socialist candidate Hollande’s 28.63 per cent. Le Pen won 17.9 per cent.
With several smaller left-wing candidates endorsing Hollande in the run-off, Sarkozy has upped his rhetoric on immigration and “French values” in a bid to secure support from the far-right, according to left-wing paper Libération. However, Sarkozy ruled out any formal voting pact between the UMP and the FN.
The run-off vote takes place this Sunday, May 6. According to opinion polls cited by the BBC, Hollande is currently ahead of Sarkozy by six to 10 points.
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