Le Pen vic­tory would be ‘blow’ to EU

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Bri­tain’s for­mer premier said yes­ter­day the elec­tion of France’s Ma­rine Le Pen would be a “big body blow” for Europe, say­ing he hoped for the vic­tory of a main­stream party. David Cameron said the re­cent rise of “anti-sys­tem, pop­ulist” and “quite ex­treme politi­cal par­ties” in Western Europe did not mark the end of glob­al­iza­tion, but warned of the im­me­di­ate need to make a “ma­jor course cor­rec­tion” to ad­dress re­lated eco­nomic and cul­tural chal­lenges.

“If France were to elect Ma­rine Le Pen, that would be ob­vi­ously a very big body blow for the Euro­pean pro­ject,” he said at a Hin­dus­tan Times or­ga­nized con­fer­ence in New Delhi, hop­ing for a vic­tory of “a main­stream party that can unite peo­ple be­hind their can­di­dacy”. He said the de­mand for and ben­e­fit of free trade, travel, spe­cial­iza­tion, tech­nol­ogy, in­no­va­tion were not go­ing away.

“But we do need to un­der­stand very pro­foundly the things that have hap­pened, that have caused the events you have seen in Europe and the wider world in the last one year,” he added. Cameron re­signed as prime min­is­ter in June af­ter he-a sup­porter and cam­paigner for Bri­tain to re­main in the Euro­pean Union-lost a high-stakes na­tional ref­er­en­dum on the very is­sue. He de­fended the mer­its of hav­ing Bri­tain stay in the bloc. “I still be­lieve it would have been bet­ter for Bri­tain to re­main in­side the EU,” he said in the In­dian cap­i­tal. “Our neigh­bors, our part­ners, our friends and our al­lies and I wanted us to stay in the room with them when they make de­ci­sions that af­fect us and our con­ti­nent,” Cameron added.

Hol­lande vows to fight for weak­est

Mean­while, French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande vowed yes­ter­day to spend the fi­nal months of his pres­i­dency fight­ing to pro­tect the rights of the most vul­ner­a­ble in so­ci­ety and the world. Speak­ing on his first for­eign trip since an­nounc­ing he would not stand for re-elec­tion, the so­cial­ist pres­i­dent also hit out at the poli­cies of the con­ser­va­tive can­di­date who is now fa­vorite to suc­ceed him in May.

“My de­ci­sions as pres­i­dent have been based first and fore­most on pro­tect­ing,” Hol­lande said, adding that he had al­ways sought to look out for the “most vul­ner­a­ble” and “civil­ian pop­u­la­tions threat­ened by wars and ter­ror­ism”. “This will be my task un­til the month of May.”

Hol­lande took is­sue with a cam­paign pledge by con­ser­va­tive fron­trun­ner Fran­cois Fil­lon to shed 500,000 pub­lic sec­tor jobs if he be­comes pres­i­dent. “When you have no civil ser­vants, you have no state, and when you have no state, you have no France,” he told mem­bers of the French ex­pa­tri­ate com­mu­nity in Abu Dhabi. Hol­lande was in the United Arab Emi­rates cap­i­tal to at­tend a con­fer­ence on pro­tect­ing the world’s cul­tural her­itage against the threats of ex­trem­ism and con­flict. He also vis­ited the site of the new Lou­vre Abu Dhabi, which is ex­pected to open in 2017 af­ter much de­lay. Faced with record low ap­proval rat­ings, Hol­lande an­nounced on Thurs­day that he would not put his name for­ward to stand as so­cial­ist can­di­date in next year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Opin­ion polls sug­gest that Fil­lon and far-right can­di­date Ma­rine Le Pen will win the first round in April and face each other in a runoff the fol­low­ing month.

— AFP

PARIS: French far-right Front Na­tional (FN) party pres­i­dent, mem­ber of Euro­pean Par­lia­ment and can­di­date for France’s 2017 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, Ma­rine Le Pen (C) ad­dresses jour­nal­ists dur­ing a visit at a horse fair.

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