In a post last week about the travails of Nicolas Sarkozy, I mentioned the debate on the place of religion in France launched recently by the president, a move criticised on both left and right for “stigmatising” Islam. If Sarkozy’s intention in starting that conversation had been to drain support for the far-right Front National, it doesn’t seem to be working.
A poll measuring voting intentions in the first round of next year’s presidential election to be published tomorrow in Le Parisien, places FN president Marine Le Pen (daughter of Jean-Marie) in the lead with 23 per cent, followed by Sarkozy and the Socialist Martine Aubry neck and neck on 21 per cent.
Interviewed on the RTL radio station, former Socialist prime minister Laurent Fabius attributed the increasing influence of the far right to the “themes for debate” chosen by Sarkozy. Aubry herself, who has yet to secure the Parti Socialiste’s nomination, said of Sarkozy: “Instead of rejoicing when the people of Egypt and Tunisia rise up for democracy, he sows fear among the French people, as if [events in the Middle East] would lead to hordes of new immigrants [coming to France]”.
Hat-tip: Arthur Goldhammer.