French far right’s gains ‘alarming’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday called the strong showing of the far right in the French election “alarming” after its candidate Marine Le Pen drew 18 percent in the first-round vote.

By (AFP)

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Published: Mon 23 Apr 2012, 5:53 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 9:41 AM

Merkel continues to support incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy as France’s next president but will work closely with whoever wins the May 6 run-off, her deputy spokesman, Georg Streiter, told a regular government news conference.

“This high score is alarming but I expect it will be ironed out in the second round,” he said on the third-place result of Le Pen’s anti-immigrant, anti-European National Front.

“The chancellor continues to support President Sarkozy,” he told reporters adding that she “will work together very well with any elected president of France”.

“The last decades have shown that the deep friendship between France and Germany is completely independent of the people in office and has a very fundamental contribution to the unification, strengthening and development of Europe,” he said.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle also welcomed a run-off between “two proven democratic candidates”.

“Naturally we respect the electoral choice of the French citizens,” Westerwelle said in a written statement.

“But it is good that the run-off now is taking place between two proven democratic candidates who stand for Europe and the German-Franco friendship,” he added.

Merkel and Sarkozy have fostered close ties in fighting the eurozone debt crisis and pundits have questioned whether she could form a similar bond with his Socialist rival Francois Hollande if he wins the run-off.

An MEP from Germany’s governing coalition warned in an online edition of a German business paper Monday that stabilising the euro could prove more difficult a task under Hollande.

“If Sarkozy loses, Germany would have to adjust to a more difficult partner in the key question of stabilising the euro,” Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a European parliamentary member for the Free Democratic Party, junior partner in Merkel’s centre-right coalition, told Handelsblatt.

If Hollande wins, he said he hoped that he would carry out as quickly as possible a “realistic analysis” of the French economy and “depart from his sometimes irresponsible electoral promises”.

For the leader of Germany’s opposition centre-left Social Democrats, Sigmar Gabriel, Hollande’s success in the first round showed “how big the desire of the French is for a change”.

Speaking on Deutschlandfunk public radio, he said that if Hollande was voted France’s next president he would strive for debt reduction but with a strengthening of growth and employment.

“We need, at the core, growth and jobs otherwise debt reduction does not work, that’s what we are just seeing in Spain,” Gabriel said.

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