Hollande looks for votes of immigrants

Hollande looks for votes of immigrants

Hollande looks for votes of immigrants

A torn campaign poster for France’s incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) is seen on a campaign poster from Socialist François Hollande (R). AFP photo

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said yesterday he would not do a deal with the far-right, but insisted those who vote for Marine Le Pen’s National Front should not be demonized, while his Socialist frontrunner eyed for the immigrant votes.

“We need to speak to the 18 percent who voted for Marine Le Pen,” Sarkozy said in an interview yesterday with France Info radio. “But I don’t want ministers from the National Front. I’ve never wanted that. The 18 percent who voted National Front don’t belong to me, but it’s my duty to address them,” Agence France Presse quoted him as saying.

“What Mr Hollande has not understood is that we should speak to everybody. There will be no deal with the National Front, no ministers for them, but I have to take them into account and not feel I have to hold my nose.” Hollande returned to the immigrant issue, promising voting rights to non-EU foreigners in France. He said yesterday in a television interview he planned the reform for next year so that non-EU foreigners would be able to vote in municipal elections in 2014. Sarkozy, who has said there are “too many foreigners in France” and vows to reduce immigration, staunchly opposes giving voting rights to non-EU foreigners.

‘Divisive’ far-right
Nationals from EU countries can already vote in local elections in France. Hollande, whose campaign program says foreigners living in France for five years should be allowed to vote, noted that Sarkozy in 2008 said he was “intellectually favorable” to giving non-EU nationals the right to vote. Hollande also accused Sarkozy of going too far to woo the “divisive” far right. “Nicolas Sarkozy wants to speak and he has the right to the voters, as I do, but to flatter, to try to seduce, including leaders of the far right, that goes too far,” Hollande said.

Meanwhile, far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon warned Hollande against chasing Le Pen’s voters, saying he risked electoral “disaster.” Melenchon, who came fourth in the first round, told Reuters that Hollande needed the votes of his Left Front to beat Sarkozy.