Euro leaders accused of pact to shun French Socialist chief
Monday 05 March 2012
Four conservative European leaders, including David Cameron, have an informal pact to ostracise the French presidential front-runner, François Hollande, it is alleged today.
An article in the German news magazine, Der Spiegel, claims that the German, British, Italian and Spanish leaders have made a verbal deal to shun the Socialist candidate – and runaway favourite – before the two-round election in April and May.
In the case of Angela Merkel of Germany, Mario Monti of Italy and Mariano Rajoy of Spain, the magazine said the ban was a punishment for Mr Hollande's pledge to renegotiate the European treaty on fiscal discipline, which was signed last week.
Mr Cameron, who refused to see Mr Hollande in London last Wednesday, joined the pact out of ideological solidarity with President Nicolas Sarkozy, Der Spiegel claimed.
Ms Merkel's office denied the story yesterday. But Mr Hollande's campaign team condemned a "concerted, conservative intervention" in the French presidential campaign which was "unprecedented in the history of Europe". Mr Hollande (pictured right), who polls suggest will become President on 6 May, also tried to stir up national and democratic outrage. But he took care not to burn bridges with European leaders who may soon be his colleagues. "It is for the people of France to decide their future," he said. "Other European leaders, for whom I have the greatest of respect, have no right to influence the choice of the French people."
Mr Hollande, 57, whose first-round lead over Mr Sarkozy grew to 7.5 percentage points in a poll yesterday, has visited Berlin, Rome and London during his campaign. In each capital, he saw centre-left opposition leaders but not the centre-right Chancellor or Prime Minister. His campaign team insisted that, at least in the case of Germany, this broke with tradition.
Mr Sarkozy's spokeswoman, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, said it was "ridiculous" to talk of a plot. Leaders were avoiding Mr Hollande due to his "credibility problem", she said.
The aristocratic-seeming Ms Kosciusko-Morizet, a former Environment Minister, has a credibility problem of her own. In an error-strewn period for Mr Sarkozy and his campaign, she told a radio interviewer last week that a ticket on the Paris Métro now costs "around €4 (£3.30)" – nearly three times the actual amount. Although trivial, the incident was unfortunate for a campaign which seeks to portray Mr Sarkozy as a "Frenchman among the French".
The suggestion there is a pro-Sarkozy conspiracy of European centre-right leaders could be more damaging for a President who promises to preserve "French national identity".
In a campaign speech in Bordeaux on Saturday, Mr Sarkozy reacted to poor polls and a week of minor calamities by steering his campaign rightwards.
He said immigration could be a "problem" and he vowed to crack down on any special arrangements for halal meat or separate swimming times for Muslim women in public pools.
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 2 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 3 Thank heavens for Louise Mensch and her foul-mouthed tweets to world leaders
- 5 Phil Neville backtracks on Tomas Rosicky 'I'd smash him' comments from Match of the Day 2
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Greece elections: Greek PM Alexis Tsipras takes aim at 'neo-liberal' Europe as country gears up for prolonged austerity battle
Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary: Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
Prince Philip set to be knighted by Australia: Celebrate by reading his greatest gaffes
New York snow: Winter Storm Juno downgraded as 'one of the largest snowstorms in history' fails to show
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
Leaked documents show Ukip leaders approve NHS privatisation once it becomes more 'acceptable to the electorate'
£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity for an ...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading digital agenci...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...
£13000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A chance to work for an extreme...