Sarkozy, Hollande step up battle to woo French far right
Posted Tuesday, April 24 2012 at 17:50
Gilbert Collard, head of the FN support committee, said Tuesday he believed "Marine Le Pen will probably give an instruction to vote blank."
Polls show that most far-right supporters prefer Sarkozy, but up to a quarter -- mainly working-class voters attracted by Le Pen's protectionist trade policies -- could switch to Hollande.
Le Pen's score on Sunday was nearly double the 10.4 percent her father and former party leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, got when he stood in 2007.
The French left has not won a presidential election in a quarter of a century, but with France mired in low growth and rising joblessness, opinion polls had long predicted Hollande would beat Sarkozy.
Hollande says Sarkozy has trapped France in a downward spiral of austerity and job losses, while Sarkozy says his rival is inexperienced and weak-willed and would spark financial panic through reckless spending pledges.
Hollande has already received the backing of other left-wing first round candidates, including Jean-Luc Melenchon, who took just over 11 percent of the vote.