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Marine Le Pen to abstain in French presidential vote

"I will give neither trust nor a mandate to these two candidates," Le Pen told a rally in central Paris today. "On Sunday, I'll vote blank."

France: National Front's Marine Le Pen allowed to run for president after winning endorsements

"I will be running in the presidential election," Le Pen tweeted. "The system that wanted to stop me just lost a battle."

French Socialists Arnaud Montebourg, Audrey Pulvar assaulted by right-wing gang

The attackers were shouting "Le Pen for president" in reference to the National Front's presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen, according to the account of journalist Audrey Pulvar.

Sarkozy defends French butchers amid halal spat

ROME — As he fights to overcome a poll deficit ahead of April's election, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has found an issue he can sink his teeth into: halal meat.

Marine Le Pen, of France's far-right, may miss ballot

Marine Le Pen has sought to improve the party’s respectability among mainstream voters since replacing her father Jean-Marie Le Pen as leader last year.

Sarkozy and Merkel hold special meeting

French President makes his close relationship with Merkel a campaign issue.

Say this about French President Nicolas Sarkozy, he takes risks. 80 days before he stands for re-election he held a cabinet meeting and invited a guest to attend: German Chancellor Angela Merkel. It is their 14th joint meeting - giving new meaning to the term "special relationship."  Merkel said it was  "quite noram" for her to be involved in the French presidential election campaign.

The BBC has a full report here.

Sarkozy's close alliance with Merkel has become a serious issue in the election campaign. Marine Le Pen, leader of the ultra-right National Front is running on a platform of taking France out of the euro. She is running a credible third in recent opinion polls. Socialist Francois Hollande is leading Sarkozy and he too is taking a very anti-Europe line as arch euro-skeptic, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, gleefully wrote in today's Daily Telegraph:

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Happy 600th Birthday, Joan of Arc

French presidential candidates rush to claim the Maid of Orleans for themselves
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Joan of Arc looks down on far-right National Front leader Marine le Pen at a rally last spring in Paris. France's presidential candidates are scrambling to claim St. Joan's blessing for their campaigns on her 600th birthday. (Franck Prevel/AFP/Getty Images)

What a useful coincidence. France is in the midst of a presidential election season (first round of voting is in April) and Joan of Arc turns 600 today.

There is no one like her in French history as Le Monde notes, "The name Joan of Arc is one of the six most common street names in France. The Maid of Orleans is the only medieval figure known by all French people."

What better way to get headlines and score points with the voters for prospective candidates than to honor this unique symbol of France?

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The French and the euro: not so happy anniversary

On 10th anniversary of euro going into circulation a poll shows a majority of the French think the single currency is bad for the country
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Marine Le Pen, presidential candidate of France's far right National Front at a Christmas market last month. An anti-euro campaigner, will she be able to win extra votes out of French disillusionment with the single currency. (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

Exactly ten years ago, the first euro coins and notes began to circulate around Europe. To mark the occasion the newspaper Journal du Dimanche commissioned a poll from Ifop on French attitudes to the single currency. The results are not encouraging for political leaders.

A majority of those polled, almost two-thirds, say the euro is not good for France or for them personally. There is a generational shift underlying this view. Anti-euro feeling is highest among the young. The over-65's are more likely to view the euro positively.

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