Le Pen victory would be ‘blow’ to EU
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.
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.