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French Presidential Nomination Rule Validated in Le Pen Loss

Feb. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Presidential candidates can be required to disclose the names of officials who signed petitions in support of their campaigns, France’s constitutional court ruled, in a defeat for the National Front’s Marine Le Pen.

Requiring publication of the names of politicians supporting a candidate doesn’t inhibit political diversity, the Constitutional Council said in a ruling published on its website.

“This publicity doesn’t in itself undercut the principle of the free exchange of ideas and opinions,” the court said. The rule “complies with the Constitution.”

The decision is a loss for Le Pen, a candidate for president who advocates cutting immigration and exiting the euro. Politicians must gather signatures from 500 elected officials to show they have the institutional support needed to appear on the ballot. Le Pen has said some followers refuse to sign on for fear of retaliation for their support.

“There is no longer a functioning democracy in our country,” Le Pen said today in an interview on LCI television after the decision.

While she has commitments from 440 elected officials, Le Pen said she is “worried” she won’t reach 500. “What reassures me is that I have the people behind me,” she said.

A poll released Feb. 19 showed 14 percent of respondents supporting Le Pen, compared to 26 percent for President Nicolas Sarkozy and 32 percent for Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande.

Le Pen is the daughter of National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen.

The French presidential election will be held in two rounds, with the top two vote recipients of the April 22 ballot competing in a May 6 run-off.

To contact the reporter on this story: Heather Smith in Paris at hsmith26@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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