France's Le Pen wins endorsement for presidential run
PARIS - Agence France-Presse
A picture taken on February 17, 2012 shows the French far-right party Front national (FN)'s candidate for the 2012 French presidential election Marine Le Pen taking part in the broadcast news of French TV channel TF1 in Boulogne-Billancourt, outside Paris. AFP photoFrench far-right candidate Marine Le Pen has secured the backing of enough local government officials to run in the two-round presidential election, party sources said on Monday.
Le Pen, who heads the anti-immigrant National Front Party, now has the required 500 signatures from local mayors and other elected officials to stand in the April-May vote, the sources said.
"I have just spoken to her on the telephone and she confirmed it to me," lawyer Gilbert Collard, the head of Le Pen's supporters' committee, told France 2 public television.
Although opinion polls give Le Pen between 16 and 18 percent of the national vote, there was speculation that few mayors or regional councillors wanted to take the political risk of associating themselves with her campaign.
France's Constitutional Council last month rejected Le Pen's plea to make the sponsorships anonymous.
All French presidential candidates must have the signed endorsement of 500 elected local officials -- of which there are around 42,000 in France -- by a March 16 deadline.
Opposition Socialist candidate Francois Hollande is currently tipped to beat President Nicolas Sarkozy in the two-round election to be held on April 22 and May 6.
Marine's father Jean-Marie Le Pen repeatedly claimed that he would not be able to garner the 500 signatures necessary to stand for the presidency, but has been able to do so at every presidential election since 1988.