France's far right flirts with Sarkozy, seeks backing

France's far right flirts with Sarkozy, seeks backing

PARIS (Reuters) – Far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who has emerged as a kingmaker in France’s presidential race, sought to wrest concessions from President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday by challenging him not to bar her party’s way in parliamentary elections.

Both conservative Sarkozy and Socialist frontrunner Francois Hollande have courted Le Pen’s voters since she took third place in Sunday’s presidential first round with nearly one fifth of the vote, the National Front’s best score.

Sarkozy, who trails his centre-left rival by 10 points in polls before a May 6 runoff, has made the most direct overtures to National Front supporters, saying he respected their vote for a party which has long been stigmatized.

Le Pen has promised to give her view on the second round at the National Front’s traditional “Joan of Arc” May Day rally, and she urged Sarkozy to make his own position clearer concerning parliamentary polls in June.

Building on her record support, the National Front hopes to win its first seats in parliament since 1986, when an experiment with proportional representation gave it 35 deputies.

“In a runoff between the National Front and a Socialist, would the UMP and the president prefer to have one of my deputies or a Socialist elected?” Le Pen asked on RTL radio, referring to Sarkozy’s centre-right Union for a Popular Movement party.

“I still don’t have an answer to that question. I’m waiting,” she said, when asked who she would endorse. “How I express myself will depend on the response.”

Read the rest of the story at