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Le Pen gets backing to stay in race

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Le Pen gets backing to stay in race
Marie-Lan Nguyen
08:45 CET+01:00

French far-right candidate Marine Le Pen has secured the backing of enough local government officials to run in the two-round presidential election, party sources said on Monday.

Le Pen, who heads the anti-immigrant National Front party, now has the required 500 signatures from local mayors and other elected officials to stand in the April-May vote, the sources said.

"I have just spoken to her on the telephone and she confirmed it to me," lawyer Gilbert Collard, the head of Le Pen's supporters' committee, told France 2 public television.

Although opinion polls give Le Pen between 16 and 18 percent of the national vote, there was speculation that few mayors or regional councillors wanted to take the political risk of associating themselves with her campaign.

France's Constitutional Council last month rejected Le Pen's plea to make the sponsorships anonymous.

All French presidential candidates must have the signed endorsement of 500 elected local officials -- of which there are around 42,000 in France -- by a March 16th deadline.

Opposition Socialist candidate François Hollande is currently tipped to beat President Nicolas Sarkozy in the two-round election to be held on April 22nd and May 6th.

Marine's father Jean-Marie Le Pen repeatedly claimed that he would not be able to garner the 500 signatures necessary to stand for the presidency, but has been able to do so at every presidential election since 1988.


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