Presidential race in France focuses on immigration

Presidential race in France focuses on immigration

French President Nicolas Sarkozy rallied his troops Feb. 19 with a call for the French people to stand with him to defend the traditional values of a strong France, as French far-right leader Marine Le Pen focused her presidential campaign on immigration Feb. 19.

Trailing in the polls with barely nine weeks to go before he stands for re-election, the 57-year-old was in combative mode, despite the softening presence of his supermodel wife Carla Bruni in the first row, Agence France-Presse reported.

“Help me unite the people of France. You are the people of France,” Sarkozy declared. Addressing 10,000 cheering and flag-waving supporters in Marseille, he accused poll frontrunner Francois Hollande of selling out workers in the nuclear industry in a political deal with the Greens and warned giving non-naturalized immigrants the vote would divide France into warring interest groups, Reuters reported.

Sarkozy’s campaign themes – opposition to gay marriage and immigrant voting rights, support for public spending cuts and nuclear power – already felt well-worn just four days after he declared his candidacy.

Meanwhile, Le Pen accused Sarkozy of bowing to Muslim pressure over how animals are killed for meat, to try to head off his attempts to poach her supporters. Le Pen said the government was bowing down to “Islamic radicals.”

At a congress of her National Front party in Lille, Le Pen focused on anti-immigration territory, saying she had proof all meat in Paris was halal – killed by cutting the animal’s throat and letting its blood drain out. The main meat industry association, Interbev, denied the allegation, saying the vast majority of the meat in Paris was not slaughtered under halal practices.

Combined from AP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.