French Socialists say rivals conspiring


FRANCE’S SOCIALIST Party accused the conservative UMP party and the far-right National Front of conspiring to eject finance minister Pierre Moscovici from his seat in parliament and threaten his role in government.

Mr Moscovici’s campaign to retain his marginal parliamentary seat in the two-round legislative election on Sunday and June 17th has become a battle for political survival.

Prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has told ministers in the new interim government they will have to stand down if defeated in the elections. Mr Moscovici, who engineered Francois Hollande’s presidential election victory as his campaign director, is seeking re-election in the eastern region of Doubs, where unemployment and support for the National Front are both above the national average.

In the last legislative election in 2007, Mr Moscovici trailed his UMP opponent by over 6 per cent in the first round but won by a narrow margin in a runoff.

The Socialist Party said in a statement yesterday that the local UMP candidate was teaming up with his National Front counterpart to defeat the minister – though the UMP candidate has denied it.

Mr Moscovici, meanwhile, accused the UMP on his Twitter microblogging account of losing its moral compass by plotting an alliance with the anti-immigrant, anti-Europe National Front. The UMP’s national leadership has ruled out any alliances with National Front candidates to challenge Socialist contenders, but that does not exclude the possibility of local deals.

The Socialist Party called on the UMP to turn its back on any of its candidates who seek deals with the National Front, whose leader Marine Le Pen won an unexpected 17.9 per cent of a first-round presidential vote in April. Final opinion polls suggest that the Socialists are set to win a narrow majority in parliament with support from Green allies and hard leftists. – (Reuters)