Nicolas Sarkozy took his re-election bid to the streets of Paris on Monday, seeking to hijack the French left’s traditional May Day show of force but failing to win over a scornful Marine Le Pen.
With five days to go before the French presidential vote, the country’s three main political movements were on the march, with three competing street rallies in the capital battling for the electorate’s attention.
Le Pen, flag-bearer of the far-right anti-immigrant National Front seized on her party’s traditional May Day homage to Catholic martyr Joan of Arc to launch another fierce attack on both remaining candidates.
She had won just under 18% of the vote in the first round on April 22, trailing Sarkozy and the Socialist frontrunner Francois Hollande, who now face each other in a televised debate Wednesday and the run-off on Sunday.
Sarkozy has a embarked on a determined bid to recruit her supporters to his cause, stressing again and again his promises to cut immigration, withhold voting rights from foreign citizens and oppose gay marriage.
But a triumphalist Le Pen scorned his overture, damning Sarkozy and Hollande equally as creatures of the same party duopoly she blames for France’s economic woes and loss of sovereignty to Europe and international finance.
“Who between Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy will impose the austerity plan in the most servile way? Who will submit the best to the instructions of the IMF, the BCE or the European Commission?” she demanded ironically.
Le Pen said she would cast a blank ballot on Sunday.