Le Pen fears that not only France, "but all of Europe will be submerged by all these people if nothing is done. There are no jobs for them and most won't work, preferring a government check. Many live by dealing in drugs, or stealing. They have created their own ghettos. We have places where there are no schools, because they have set them afire and the police and firemen are attacked when they go there. Civilization is slowly evaporating from this country."
Le Pen denies he is any of the things his detractors call him, but he protests what he calls the censorship of his views by the French media. He tells me the French media spend more time talking about him than allowing him to speak for himself. During the rioting last fall, he says 50 foreign journalists interviewed him, but no French reporters. As a result, he maintains, most French people know little of his views and he is dismissed as a fringe character.
Despite the odds, Le Pen made it to the second round of voting in the 2002 presidential election and is likely to do so again in the 2007 race. But, he says, all of the parties, including the communists, quickly united against him last time and he expects a similar strategy next year. A poll in Paris Match found support for Le Pen increased 5 percent after the riots. He hopes to increase those numbers, if he can be heard.
Le Pen has been fighting for his issues since first being elected to office in 1956. Getting elected president of France is his biggest battle (if you don't count the Indo-China and Algerian wars in which he fought).
Asked his chances next year, he told me, "the next election is up to God," then quickly added, "or more riots."
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