French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s bad month has just gotten a bit worse. He was already facing an attack from the left, in the form of Hollande’s attacks on big finance and German influence in French politics. Now, he is getting hit from the other side as well. Marine Le Pen, the French Right’s alternative to Sarkozy, pummeled the President over the weekend for pandering to French anti-immigration sentiment but failing to deliver the goods (translated from the French):
Nicolas Sarkozy promised us he would pull out the sword. Instead, he showed us a ridiculous plastic dagger, the kind little boys who think they are super-heroes run around with. Sarkozy has used immigration as an electoral theme. He is wrong—immigration is not a campaign theme, but a matter of national necessity. I want to defend our culture, our civilization, our identity.
Hollande is currently leading in French polls, with 31 percent of the potential vote (to Sarkozy’s 24.5 percent), but Le Pen’s anti-immigration message seems to be resonating with a significant portion of French voters (she is netting 19.5 percent).Anti-immigration feeling is nothing new in France. Marine Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie, came in second in the first round of the 2002 French presidential election, shocking polite society, which hadn’t expected such a large swath of the French populace to identify with Le Pen’s rabid nationalism. What is news, however, is the way the President is being squeezed: between a Left that is promising retrenchment from a Germanic EU rescue plan, and a Right that is winning more converts by appealing to French nationalism.