NATIONAL Front presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has finally obtained the signatures of 500 elected officials needed to compete in this year's elections and will formally announce her candidacy this afternoon in Henin-Beaumont (Pas de Calais), according to sources at the FN.
Le Pen's struggle to get these signatures has been widely publicised, leading her to accuse the "major parties" (UMP and Socialist Party) of pressuring her bid to fail. On Sunday, she was still lacking around 15 of the essential referrals.
On the "Words from the candidate" politics show on TF1 Monday night, presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy said he hoped that Marine Le Pen "gets her sponsorship." His opponent Francois Hollande (PS) said earlier that "it would be logical" for her to get it.
Each presidential election the FN protest against the system of sponsorship by elected officials and the obligation to make public the names of those who agree to sign for a candidate. Her father and ex-leader of the party, Jean-Marie Le Pen, nevertheless still managed to get the full 500 signatures since 1988.
Florian Philippot, Marine Le Pen's campaign manager said on RTL that the news was "a big sigh of relief...not only for us, because we are finally officially in the race and we can now go to the French and explain our aims, but it is also very good news for democracy, because it was quite extraordinary to think for a moment that a candidate who represents nearly 20% of votes in the first round is not in the race."
A poll on voting intentions revealed in this morning 's Libération puts Marine Le Pen in 3rd place in the first round of presidential elections with 16% of the vote, yet still far behind Francois Hollande (27%) and Nicolas Sarkozy (28.5%).