French President Nicolas Sarkozy warned National Front supporters against abstaining in the second round of the presidential elections, saying it will elect Socialist Francois Hollande and encourage immigration.
“If you abstain, you must assume your responsibility if Hollande is elected and goes on to regularize all illegal migrants and give the vote to foreigners,” Sarkozy said today at a rally in Dijon.
National Front leader Marine Le Pen took third place in the first round of the elections on April 22, winning 17.9 percent and making her supporters the king makers in a May 6 run-off between Hollande and Sarkozy. Hollande took 28.6 percent and Sarkozy 27.2 percent in the opening round.
Hollande says he’s never called for regularizing all undocumented workers. His program does call for non-Europeans to have the right to vote in municipal elections if they have been in France for five years, a position that Sarkozy made in 2008 before changing his mind.
Sarkozy today denied he’s trying to attract National Front voters by hardening his positions on immigration and crime.
“Since Sunday I have not made a single proposition that hasn’t been in my platform for months,” Sarkozy said in Dijon.
“The message they gave is that they want to preserve their way of life,” Sarkozy said about Le Pen’s voters. “The message they gave is that they don’t want a country where they no longer feel a national identity. Should I not speak to those 6.5 million people? Should I not listen to them?”
All polls since April 23 show Hollande winning by between 8 percentage points and 12 percentage points, with only about half of Le Pen’s supporters backing Sarkozy.
France accepts about 200,000 immigrants a year, about 0.3 percent of the country’s population. Le Pen wants to cut that to 10,000 annually. Sarkozy wants to cut it to 100,000. Hollande won’t give a target, saying parliament should set the number each year based on economic conditions.
To contact the reporter on this story: Gregory Viscusi in Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at email@example.com