Friday 20 October 2017

'I have trust in intelligence of French people...but we saw what happened with Brexit' - France’s foreign minister urges caution in presidential election

Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader, gestures during an FN political rally in Frejus, France
Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader, gestures during an FN political rally in Frejus, France
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

France’s foreign minister has warned of the potential for an upset in the French presidential election that could see a win for Marine Le Pen.

On a visit to Dublin, Jean-Marc Ayrault urged caution but said he had trust “in the intelligence of the French people”.

He said Ms Pen, leader of the far-right National Front party, is “trying to please everybody” and that her policy platform is “nonsensical”.

“But let’s be careful. You are never protected from a potential accident,” he told a conference this morning hosted by the Irish Exporters Association.

Read more: David McWilliams: Ireland's financial destiny is in the hands of angry French voters - this is what we must do if the euro breaks up

“Even at the last minute, we saw what happened with Brexit, we thought it was ok and then later in the night it changed, so I don’t want to take any risks for my country. The French electoral presidential campaign is ongoing. Unfortunately it is tainted by some scandals that give bad image of politics to French citizens that are feeding these populist movements.

Jean-Marc Ayrault
Jean-Marc Ayrault

“I do have trust in the intelligence of the French people and we will do everything in our power to make sure that this does not happen.”

Polls show Francois Fillon, a former conservative prime minister, and Emmanuel Macron, an ex-investment banker and economy minister, battling neck-and-neck for second place in the April 23 first round of voting, in which Madame Le Pen is expected to come first.

Either man would beat her in the second round, the polls show, although she has been narrowing the gap.

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