French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who trails Socialist candidate Francois Hollande in the lead-up to the second round of France's presidential elections, said on Wednesday that he will not make a deal with the far-right National Front (FN) party.
Sarkozy narrowly lost to Hollande in the first round of elections last weekend and might need to win over some of those who voted for FN candidate Marine Le Pen if he hopes to serve a second term.
Before rejecting the idea, there was talk that Sarkozy would make a pact that would put some FN members in his cabinet if he won re-election. Two-thirds of Sarkozy's supporters wanted the deal to go through, according to Reuters.
“There will be no deal and there will be no ministers from the National Front. But I refuse to demonize men and women who, by casting a vote for Marine Le Pen, have expressed a crisis vote, an anger vote, a suffering vote, a vote of desperation,” Sarkozy said on Wednesday.
Le Pen, who came in third on Sunday with a surprising 18 percent of the vote -- the best performance the FN has ever scored -- has yet to endorse a candidate, while both Hollande and Sarkozy are trying to appeal to her base. The FN sits very far to the right on the political spectrum, but each candidate thinks that Le Pen's supporters are up for grabs.
We need to speak to the 18 percent who voted for Marine Le Pen, Sarkozy said, according to the BBC.
I don't regard this 18 percent as people with extreme-right ideas ... but I don't want ministers from the National Front. I've never wanted that.
Hollande also argued that Le Pen's voters came from both the right and the left, and supporters should be on the side of progress, equality, change, shared effort and justice.
It is up to me to convince them that the left defends them, Hollande stated.