Using articles from Valeurs Actuelles and Yahoo, Le Conservateur, in a post dated March 4, put forth the possibility that Nicolas Sarkozy will help Jean-Marie Le Pen get onto the ballot in the first round of voting on April 22, by allowing UMP elected officials to sponsor the leader of the Front National. As we know, 500 signatures from elected officials (usually mayors) are needed for a candidate to get his name on the official ballot.
A candidate can pour time and energy into a campaign, but without the 500 signatures, it's all for naught. Sarkozy's motives are self-serving, but beneficial to Le Pen as well:
His calculations are obvious. (...) In the event Mr. Le Pen is absent from the great election, hundreds of thousands of furious FN voters will take it out on Nicolas Sarkozy, who needs all the votes he can get and who cannot be elected without a sizable gain from the votes cast for Jean-Marie Le Pen during the first round.
(...) The presence of François Bayrou complicates the situation. In the event of the absence of the Front National candidate, a great number of "protest votes" would go to the centrist candidate. The risk then would be to see Mr. Bayrou reach the second round, eliminating either Sarkozy or Royal. In the latter case, a second round between Sarko and Bayrou would be uncertain for the UMP candidate.
And there's something else - now it's the Socialist Party that may be worried about the absence of Jean-Marie Le Pen, for this would propel Bayrou. Thus, both UMP (Sarkozy) and PS (Royal) have a common interest: seeing to it that the FN gets its 500 signatures. The irony of politics...
In a subsequent post dated March 6, Le Conservateur's suspicions are confirmed:
A few days ago I raised the question. Now Nicolas Sarkozy himself is out in the open about it: he is encouraging the elected officials of his UMP party to sponsor the FN, and other candidates in need of the 500 signatures.
(...) The reasons, which are obvious, have already been discussed: Sarkozy is counting on a rebound of "nationalist votes", but he also wants to contain Bayrou, with the help of Le Pen.
Should the candidates of the national Right agree to this helping hand? Of course, considering that it was pressures from the major parties that made obtaining the signatures so difficult.
One article was posted at Galliawatch on the background of the 500 signatures requirement. Ostensibly its purpose was to discourage trivial candidates, but as it turns out it prevents everybody except the two major parties from being on the ballot. The rule went into effect in 1976, when the requisite number of sponsors was raised from 100 to 500, as part of an election reform plan initiated by De Gaulle.
Another problem with this system is the terrible pressure placed on the mayors who are constantly solicited for signatures, and their fear of some sort of retribution from their own party should they sponsor a candidate of some other political stripe. Now that Sarko has given the green light, those who favor Le Pen are free to sign.
In the event of a Sarko-Le Pen second round, is there any chance Le Pen might win? I very much doubt it.