I think this is a great move by Sarkozy, though I’m not a big fan of Le Pen. It shows that France has elected a smart man. And though it might be a mere political stunt by sarkozy, it’s a good one. So maybe there is a future for France.
PARIS — President Nicolas Sarkozy held talks Wednesday with far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen _ the first time the nationalist firebrand has been invited to the presidential palace in at least 33 years.
Le Pen called the invitation a “democratic gesture,” and said the two talked about the European Union. “I told him what he already knew, of our profound differences on this subject,” Le Pen said, adding that they also had a “general exchange of views.” Sarkozy is preparing for an EU summit in Brussels this week, hoping to push through his idea of a “simplified treaty” to replace the draft EU constitution rejected in 2005 by French and Dutch voters.
Le Pen has called for France to pull out of the EU and its common currency, the euro.
Sarkozy said in a June 6 interview with Le Figaro newspaper that he would meet with “all political formations” represented in the French and European parliaments. Le Pen is a lawmaker in the European Parliament. “I saw that some people were astonished,” Sarkozy said in an interview with TF1 television about his decision to see Le Pen. “I don’t understand. Jean-Marie Le Pen has the right to stand for elections. … He represents millions of people. And I’m supposed to say … ‘I won’t see him?'”
Former presidents Jacques Chirac and Francois Mitterrand always refused to meet with Le Pen. He met twice with Alain Poher, who was president for two brief interludes in 1969 and 1974, according to National Front spokesman Alain Vizier, who could not provide exact dates.
Le Pen, who shocked France with his second-place finish in the 2002 presidential race against Chirac, came in a poor fourth in this year’s contest. His National Front Party fared so badly in this month’s legislative elections that it risks losing up to 60 percent of its state subsidies.