The 'Trump effect' weighs on France's presidential election
Donald Trump's election in the US has given a new boost to conservative leaders in what may be the next major populist battleground, France, where far-right leader Marine Le Pen is convinced that her anti-immigration, anti-Islam views can lead her to the presidency in five months.
Former President Nicolas Sarkozy, running to get his job back, said that Trump's election shows that politicians must listen to "the wrath of the people.
"Mr Trump wants to defend American interests? Fine, I want to defend French interests and those of Europe. What Americans allow themselves, why should we refuse that for France?" Sarkozy said in a rally in the southern city of Nice on Tuesday night.
Sarkozy is facing tough competition in his party's two-round primary that starts Sunday. Polls have repeatedly placed him behind ex-Prime Minister Alain Juppe.
Another major contender, former Prime Minister FranÁois Fillon, is gaining popularity as he also presents himself as an alternative to Sarkozy.
CREDIT IN PUBLIC OPINION
Lucas Moulin, a 19-year-old supporter of Sarkozy who attended his Nice rally, told The Associated Press that Trump's victory can give his preferred candidate "strength and credit in public opinion.
"He presents himself as an anti-system candidate, with an anti-elite speech, like Trump, who won," Moulin said.
Sarkozy is campaigning on some of Le Pen's favourite issues, including strong anti-immigration and security measures, in the hope to attract votes from the far-right.
All recent polls suggest that Le Pen could reach the final run of the two-round presidential election next year. The same polls also indicate that in the end, she would lose to any major contender from the right or from the left.