'France is collapsing,' Le Pen says
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After several polls showed Marine Le Pen more than holding her own against rivals in a hypothetical presidential match-up, FRANCE 24 sat down with the far-right leader for a wide-ranging interview touching on Europe, immigration and nuclear energy.
Riding high on strong showings in a handful of French polls on the 2012 presidential election, National Front leader Marine Le Pen has had an early start on the campaign trail.
The far right politician, who took over from her father as head of the party in January, sat down with FRANCE 24 journalist Roselyne Fèbvre for an interview covering a wide range of domestic and international issues. Here are some of the highlights.
President Nicolas Sarkozy
"France is collapsing because of a French president who is no longer running anything, who is governing on impulse or emotion, depending on the circumstances. And France’s interests and image have suffered for it."
Earthquake in Japan
"I want to express my admiration for the remarkable calm and courage of the Japanese people. We have lessons to learn from them, and from how Japan prepared its population for this kind of disaster. France is very poorly prepared. We need to begin a campaign of information and education, and to create a national guard composed of civilians that could intervene in the event of a natural catastrophe."
"For years, environmentalists have been opposed to any investment in nuclear energy, even though these investments were intended to modernise French power stations. Of course we should research other energy sources. But to say today that we should be reducing nuclear energy production seems completely absurd to me."
"Entering a war in Libya while we’re already ensnared in one in Afghanistan, and while Iraq is far from stable, is a very bad choice. The responsibility of a French president is to first consider the interests and welfare of the French population and of France. Public opinion in Arab countries would turn against us if we intervened. Why is it always up the European Union to intervene militarily, to accommodate the refugees? It seems logical to me that Libya’s neighbours would help manage this kind of regional problem."
"Incontestably, the Euro has not demonstrated its viability in terms of stimulating growth and prosperity and reducing unemployment for the people of Europe. On the contrary, it has contributed to the long-term weakening of our economies. If we return to a national currency, we can once again have the central bank of France issuing loans to the Treasury without interest. That would enable us to get out of this spiral of debt in which we’ve been living for several years."
Presidential elections and polls
"I was not surprised to see polls that showed me advancing to the second round of voting. Those numbers encourage me to keep working and talking about my policy proposals. There are still a lot of French people who have a totally caricatured vision of the National Front. We have solutions on research and education, not only on immigration and national security. I want to tell French people to give themselves a real choice for the second round vote. Sarkozy versus Strauss-Kahn are twins. They have the same policy ideas. I’m offering a real alternative."
"He is very representative of everything I fight against. The policies he has implemented as head of the International Monetary Fund have crushed people all over the world, causing catastrophic social consequences."
"We need to have a moratorium on immigration. There are certain sectors of activity which require immigration because the immigrants have skills that we lack. But beyond that, we can’t afford any more. Immigration is weighing on our deficit on our system of social protection. We have 5 million unemployed people in France. What are we going to do, import more unemployed people? That’s crazy."