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French far-right leader Le Pen predicts a surprise in 1st round of presidential race

French far-right leader Le Pen predicts a surprise in 1st round of presidential race

Extreme-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen predicted an "enormous surprise" in the first round of France's two-round presidential election in April.
Le Pen, who shocked France and Europe by coming in second place behind incumbent President Jacques Chirac in the last election in 2002, said support for his presidential campaign was growing day by day.
"I feel a silent but enormous wave of indignation, of protest. It's a tsunami," Le Pen, who heads the anti-immigration National Front party, told a gathering of supporters Saturday near the northern city of Rouen. He added he was expecting an "enormous surprise" in the first round of voting, on April 22.
Le Pen has been coming in third place in opinion polls, behind front-runners Segolene Royal, the opposition Socialist candidate, and the governing UMP party's Nicolas Sarkozy. Royal and Sarkozy, France's Interior Minister, are running neck-and-neck, each hovering around 30 percent, while Le Pen consistently garners about 15 percent in opinion polls.
Still, Le Pen said he was not afraid of his mainstream, media-friendly rivals.
"I am in the heads and in the hearts of the French. I don't need to be on the screens," he said.
At Saturday's meeting, attended by some 700 people, Le Pen touched on his perennial favorite topic, immigration.
He spoke of a France that is frightened, "frightened on the street, frightened at work, frightened at the table," adding that "the primary reason for this insecurity lies in immigration."
"The French are right to be scared," said Le Pen, who has been convicted of racism and anti-Semitism. "If we continue like this, we are going to be submerged" by immigrants.
Despite his warnings late last year that he might not be able to obtain the needed 500 official backers to make a presidential run, Le Pen said the situation was "improving every day."
In France, those wishing to run for president must have filed the signatures of 500 officials _ mostly, mayors of villages, towns and cities _ by March 16.
"Every day, two, three, five or six (signatures) arrive," said Le Pen, declining to say how many backers he has.


Updated : 2021-04-12 14:25 GMT+08:00