Not many people realize this but in spite of polling anywhere between 16% and 22% in recent election polls, Marine Le Pen might not be included on the French presidential ballot. The reason is Le Pen needs 500 signatures by elected officials supporting her campaign. Le Pen says she only has 350.

I had been aware of this for some time but figured she could scrape up 500 signatures from a pool of 47,000 or so bureaucrats eligible to sign. Perhaps not.

Please consider Le Pen attacks all sides over ‘pathetic’ poll

Far-right Front National leader Marine Le Pen slammed a poll in a Sunday newspaper that asked people how they would vote if she was not on the ballot paper.

The prospect could be a reality if Le Pen fails to get 500 elected officials to sponsor her candidacy.

Under French law, any presidential candidate needs 500 signatures from elected representatives in at least 30 different departments across the country or in France’s overseas territories.

Le Pen told RTL radio on Thursday that she was still 150 short of the target number and risked being excluded from the vote on April 22nd.

A Sunday newspaper, Journal du Dimanche, published an opinion poll at the weekend showing that the fortunes of current president Nicolas Sarkozy improve markedly without Le Pen in the picture.

In that case, Sarkozy and his Socialist rival François Hollande would each get 33 percent of the vote.

Current polls give the president around 24 percent compared to Hollande’s 30 percent. Le Pen is just behind on around 20 percent, threatening to overtake the president and secure a place in the final two-way runoff on May 6th.

Le Pen told a meeting in Toulouse on Sunday that the scenario in the poll was “the dream of the political class.”

“If I’m not there will you vote for Nicolas Sarkozy, for François Hollande?” she said, as the audience booed and whistled.

“There is your response to their pathetic opinion polls and pathetic manipulations,” she said.

Does it Matter?

The answer is not straight forward. It depends on the meaning of “matter”.

Le Pen was not going to win. If she is off the ballot, More first-round votes will go to Nicolas Sarkozy than François Hollande.

However, in the second round of voting (recall French elections are two-stage with the top two candidates competing in a runoff), Polls show Hollande beating Sarkozy by 58% to 42% margin. Even if she bumped off Sarkozy, she would not win. Nor will Sarkozy win.

Thus from a candidate point of view, one might say it does not matter.

However, the process is certainly a defeat of democracy. Nothing is served by a process of keeping her off the ballot. Indeed, if she is as bad as Sarkozy claims, then voters should recognize that as well.

The 36,000 mayors and 11,000 other bureaucrats eligible to vote have to do so publicly. Le Pen has a challenge into the French Supreme Court on the secret ballot issue. That case will be heard on February 22 as noted by Reuters in French far right say big parties muzzling democracy.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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