Far-right politician Marine Le Pen said she has secured enough support to formally launch her candidacy for the French presidency, ahead of this Friday’s deadline.
Le Pen, the leader of the anti-immigration National Front party and daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the party’s notorious founder, said she received the approval of 500 elected officials, the minimum requirement to stand for election.
Only last week, Marine Le Pen expressed concern that she might not be able to receive enough support to commence her candidacy.
In a tweet, Le Pen thanked the election officials who endorsed her and bragged that she had defeated the system that wanted to prevent me from running.
BBC reported that Le Pen is expected to make an official announcement of her candidacy in the Pas de Calais in northern France, a National Front stronghold.
According to the French newspaper Le Monde, Florian Philippot, Le Pen’s campaign chief told RTL radio on Tuesday morning: It's a big sigh of relief and it is great news. Not only for us, because… we are finally officially in the race, and we can finally go explain to the French [people] about our [cause]. But it is also very good news for democracy, because it was still extraordinary to think for a moment that a candidate who represents nearly 20 percent of votes in the first round is not in the race. It's a new season starting.
However, Le Pen faces an uphill battle against the two leading “mainstream” candidates, the center-right incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist challenger Francois Hollande.
Sarkozy and Hollande are expected to engage in a fight to the finish through the two-round selection process.
In the latest poll released by Paris Match magazine, Sarkozy would gain 28.5 percent of the vote in the first round scheduled for April 22, followed by 27 percent for Hollande, 16 percent for Le Pen and 13 percent for centrist candidate Francois Bayrou.
In May, in the second round (which would include the top two vote--getters from the first round), Hollande would beat Sarkozy by a wide margin, 54.5 percent to 45.5 percent.
Of greater concern to Le Pen is that Sarkozy appears to have stolen some of her thunder by co-opting her strident opposition to immigration. Indeed, in a recent speech, Sarkozy said France has “too many foreigners,” that immigrants threaten the French “way of life” and that he would seek to drastically reduce legal immigration to the country.
While Sarkozy has embraced a solid anti-immigration stance, Le Pen’s position on the subject is much more profound. She is not only calling for a 95 percent reduction in annual immigration but also wants France to quit the euro zone.