Marine Le Pen softens her message to woo voters

The head of France’s far-right National Front made a final push for votes, ahead of tomorrow’s crucial elections, promising pragmatism over ideology in any regions won by her anti-immigration party.

Marine Le Pen softens her message to woo voters

At a final rally, Marine Le Pen underscored the national character of the regional vote, telling cheering supporters that a new France is within their grasp.

The party’s candidates for leadership councils in 13 French regions shared the stage with Le Pen.

The anti-immigration National Front led in six regions in the first round on December 6 , and Le Pen herself led by a wide margin in the north where she is running.

But a poll by TNS-Sofres-One Point suggested that both Le Pen and her niece, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, who is running in the south, would lose in the final round.

Such an outcome would be a major setback for the National Front — and for Marine Le Pen’s planned bid for the presidency in 2017.

The two Le Pens scored so well in round one that the governing Socialists, straggling in third place, ordered their candidates to withdraw so their voters could cast ballots for the rival conservative mainstream to block the far right.

Le Pen softened her usually trenchant stance in a reach-out to left and right, saying her party represents a new way where “patriots” respect the interests of the regions and clans and “political fraud” have no place.

“There will be no political witch hunts in the regions. They key word won’t be ideology but pragmatism,” she said, in a clear bid to lure voters fearful of a party accused by the mainstream of dividing the French.

But she also said that National Front regions would “open each file” when deciding on subsidies for associations and other interests and “stop, reform, or continue.”

She and her niece have said in the past they would refuse funding to interests representing a single community, a reference to Muslim groups.

Earlier, Le Pen vowed, if elected to head the north, to bring a suit against the French state over the situation in Calais, where thousands of migrants are camped in hopes of reaching Britain.

She claimed on BFM television that the port city had deteriorated to the point where the mayor was issuing passes to residents to get home — a claim the mayor quickly denied.

The opinion poll suggests Marine Le Pen would get 47% and her conservative adversary Xavier Bertrand, a former labour minister, 53%.

Maréchal-Le Pen is polling at 46% in Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, while her conservative rival, Christian Estrosi, is on 54%. The online poll took place two days after last Sunday’s first round.

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