Bad News for Sarkozy as Far-Right Enters Race?

Just as Nicolas Sarkozy broke through to the top spot in the polls, France’s far-right leader Marine Le Pen announced she would stand in the country’s presidential elections this spring.

George Kavanagh | Stone | Getty Images

An Ifop/Fiducial poll released on Tuesday showed support for Sarkozy at 28.5 percent in the first round of the election on April 22, while 27 percent said they would vote for his main challenger, socialist Francois Hollande.

The news will have been a welcome boost to the French President, who has so far trailed Hollande in the polls.

But Le Pen’s announcement that she had obtained the 500 signatures from elected officials required to run in the election may dampen spirits.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Le Pen said: “I will run in the presidential election. The system that prevented me from doing so has just lost a battle.”

In recent weeks, Sarkozy has sought to court voters drawn to Le Pen’s anti-immigration stance by saying he would reduce the number of immigrants to France.

He even threatened to pull out of the Schengen agreement which removes all borders between EU states and allows for free movement of good and people, alarming other leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.