Globeandmail.com

French Web site tries to hamper Le Pen campaign

Reuters News Agency
Friday, April 26, 2002   Online Edition, Posted at 5:33 PM EST


Paris French voters desperate to block far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen after his shock success in a presidential election are turning to the Internet to rally support against him. Webmasters are posting details of protests on personal sites or setting up new ones urging voters to back conservative President Jacques Chirac and keep Mr. Le Pen out in the final ballot on May 5.

The 73-year-old ex-paratrooper stunned France on Sunday when, boosted by a record abstention rate, he ousted Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin to clinch a place in the final vote. Student Fabien Grenouillet closed his personal Web site as a mark of mourning over the ballot. He left only a homepage that calls on surfers to "Vote Crook, Not Fascist," referring to sleaze charges against Mr. Chirac. "Twenty per cent of France is fascist Shame on You," the Web site says. Below are photographs of Mr. Le Pen, who once dismissed the Nazi gas chambers as a detail of history, alongside an image of a mass grave at a Nazi concentration camp.

Webmaster Philippe Batreau quickly knocked together the site liberte-egalite-fraternite.net, named after the French Revolution slogan, after Sunday's shock result to urge people to vote for Mr. Chirac. "Failing to vote on May 5 gives fascism a voice," it says.

Another organization, Le Maquis a reference to the French name for the World War Two French Resistance aims to keep Parisians abreast of protests and social actions in the French capital. Since Sunday, it has dedicated most of its webspace to information on protests against Mr. Le Pen, which have mushroomed across France this week. "Before Sunday I had around 30 hits a day. Today I had more than 700," site creator David Langlois-Mallet told the daily Le Monde.

Both sites featured lists of links, mostly aimed at young voters, all bearing the same message: Vote for Mr. Chirac (albeit grudgingly) to keep Mr. Le Pen out. Green party candidate Noel Mamere, who notched up only 5 per cent of the first-round vote, has transformed his election site into an anti-Le Pen platform. "I urge you to vote Chirac and sign this petition ... to block Jean-Marie Le Pen and his repulsive ideas," it says.

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This year, 2004, Le Pen was turned down when he put himself up for reelection. It was decided that he had no right to do so for lack of a proper local address. Good one, boyos!