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Marine Le Pen short of funds for 2017 presidential run, party says

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French far-right leader Marine Le Pen lacks the resources needed to fund a presidential campaign in 2017 because French banks refuse to lend her National Front party money for political reasons, a senior party official said Monday.


National Front party Secretary General Nicolas Bay told Europe 1 radio that he had asked for a loan of about €27 million ($28 million) for the April-May presidential and legislative campaigns next year “from among banking establishments in France, Europe and around the world”.

But French banks were refusing to lend the party money, he said, adding that the party was facing "discrimination based on political opinions".

Société Générale, Crédit Agricole, BPCE and Crédit Mutuel did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment, while BNP Paribas and the French banking federation declined to offer a statement. French media have in the past published letters from French banks refusing to lend to the National Front.

Le Pen has the support of around a quarter of French voters according to opinion polls, but campaign funding has long been an issue. Most polls predict that far-right Le Pen and right-of-centre Les Républicains candidate François Fillon will both make it to the second round in May 2017 but forecast an eventual win for Fillon.

In 2014 it emerged that the National Front party had received a €9 million loan from a Russian lender.

The possibility of Russian involvement in Western elections has become a hot-button issue since US intelligence agencies accused Russia of influencing the US election in favour of Donald Trump.

Both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German intelligence agencies have expressed concern that the Kremlin might try to influence German elections next year through cyberattacks or widesread disinformation campaigns.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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