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Monday, 22 April, 2002, 11:16 GMT 12:16 UK
French election in quotes
National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen (centre), and supporters
Le Pen: "I am convinced it is possible to beat Chirac"
France has been shocked by the unexpected success of the far-right politician, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in the first round of the country's presidential election.

These are quotes from the reaction in France and abroad to the result of the vote.

Socialist candidate Lionel Jospin

"If the estimations are correct, it's a thunderbolt.

"I assume responsibility for this defeat fully and I will draw the conclusion by retiring from politics after the end of the presidential election."

Incumbent President and contender Jacques Chirac

"Today, what is at issue is our national unity, the values of the republic to which all we French are deeply attached.

"At issue is the future of France, of even the idea we have of our country, of its great humanist tradition, of its universal calling.

"Also at issue is our capacity to live together and respect each other...

"I call on all French men and women to gather to defend human rights.

"At risk is our national cohesion, the values of the Republic. France needs you, and I need you."

National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen

"It's a big defeat for the two main candidates. There is first and foremost the rejection of the people who have governed them so inefficiently... and then the hope for change.

"I am convinced it is possible to beat Chirac in two weeks. If voters evicted Jospin tonight, it is clearly probable they will evict Chirac in the second round."

Left-wing candidate Jean-Pierre Chevenement

"France must not be abandoned to the National Front."

Green Party candidate Noel Mamere

"It's a wake-up call for the whole of the left who have not responded to the needs of the poorest."

Finance Minister Laurent Fabius

"I think that tonight there are lots of people crying. This is not the France that we love."

Bruno Gollnisch, Le Pen's campaign director

"I think that many people realise that the political system is not solving the problems of our nation and I think that demonisation, making Jean-Marie Le Pen a kind of a devil, it completely crumbled down. People realised that what he had said before proved to be true."

Shimon Samuels, Simon Wiesenthal Centre, France

"Chirac is going to be influenced by this election. He has to respond to Le Pen's constituency in dealing with minorities. Many are xenophobic."

Phillipe de Rostalan, one of the National Front founders

"What Jean-Marie Le Pen wants is to restore the word to the people - first of all to restore our sovereignty. To restore law and order and to solve the immigration problem.

"But that is not the first problem, I am sorry. His programme must not be summed up on this problem alone. He wants to reduce taxes and mainly to make the family a priority."

Sami Fitouri, France

"It is France which has lost today. It's difficult to believe that many French people voted for Le Pen."

Young French voter

"It is frightening. It is terrible. France has had enough of the government. It is terrible for young people, and we have to move I think."

Pierre, France

"I've made this decision because I believe that we are in a really difficult situation in our country, and there are many things I do not accept, such as firemen or doctors and nurses being mugged while they are rescuing people. I don't accept war weapons being used against police officers.

"And maybe choosing to vote for Le Pen was not the best way to address such a warning message, but I haven't found any better way to say that I am worried."

Alex Durois, France

"If Le Pen wins, I will go to Israel".

See also:

22 Apr 02 | Europe
France stunned by Le Pen success
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