Will Le Pen miss the ballot?

Sarkozy courts the far-right vote as Le Pen struggles to qualify for the election.

With just a week to go until the deadline, Marine Le Pen is still at least "30 short" of the 500 signatures she needs from local mayors to get onto the ballot for the French presidential election. Her legal bid to allow secret signatures failed last month and elected officials from the mainstream parties are, unsurprisingly, under orders not to approve her candidacy.

Should the National Front candidate fail to get the requisite signatures, it would dramatically change the state of the race. The 17.5 per cent of French voters who support Le Pen would likely transfer their support to Nicolas Sarkozy, who has been shamelessly courting the far-right vote with his demagogic attacks on halal meat and immigration. This would almost certainly hand Sarkozy victory in the first-round. In the last month, he has narrowed François Hollande's lead from six points to just three.

However, barring a dramatic upset, Hollande is still on track to become France's first Socialist President since 1995. The polls continue to show him around 12 points ahead of Sarkozy in the second round. Not even the latter's desperate attempt to dramatise the election by vowing to quit politics if defeated is likely to change this.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Tory Brexiter Daniel Hannan: Leave campaign never promised "radical decline" in immigration

The voters might not agree...

BBC Newsnight on Twitter

It was the Leave campaign's pledge to reduce EU immigration that won it the referendum. But Daniel Hannan struck a rather different tone on last night's Newsnight. "It means free movement of labour," the Conservative MEP said of the post-Brexit model he envisaged. An exasperated Evan Davis replied: “I’m sorry we’ve just been through three months of agony on the issue of immigration. The public have been led to believe that what they have voted for is an end to free movement." 

Hannan protested that EU migrants would lose "legal entitlements to live in other countries, to vote in other countries and to claim welfare and to have the same university tuition". But Davis wasn't backing down. "Why didn't you say this in the campaign? Why didn't you say in the campaign that you were wanting a scheme where we have free movement of labour? Come on, that's completely at odds with what the public think they have just voted for." 

Hannan concluded: "We never said there was going to be some radical decline ... we want a measure of control". Your Mole suspects many voters assumed otherwise. If immigration is barely changed, Hannan and others will soon be burned by the very fires they stoked. 

I'm a mole, innit.