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French Presidential Candidate Would Represent A Step Back for Women

Protestors are decrying the politics of right-wing French presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen who is challenging president Jacques Chirac to become France’s new leader. Le Pen is well known for his anti-immigration, xenophobic stance, but if elected, Le Pen would also attempt to institute several anti-women’s rights initiatives. According to his campaign website, Le Pen would aim to ban legal abortion, increase the French birthrate, and give women monetary incentives to leave the workforce. Le Pen would also ban any form of legal recognition for homosexual couples and require students to enroll in so-called “morality classes.”

European leaders have voiced their dismay at Le Pen’s preliminary victories in the presidential election. Neil Kinnock, Britain’s European Commissioner, commented that Le Pen’s success “throws a great dirty rock into the European political pool.” Leaders are urging the French to vote against Le Pen in the May 3 election, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair has urged the French to “reject extremism of any kind.”

Sources:

New York Times, 4/23/02; Washington Post, 4/23/02