Europe's conservatives have made a pact to try to hinder Nicolas Sarkozy's main challenger in France's presidential election, a German news outlet says. Angela Merkel and Co. will not receive Francois Hollande.
Merkel and the Italian and Spanish premiers, Mario Monti and Mariano Rajoy, agreed secretly that they would not provide Socialist party candidate Francois Hollande with a platform during the French election campaign, Der Spiegel news magazine reported over the weekend.
Apparently, the three conservatives took the step because they were outraged that Hollande said he would renegotiate the EU fiscal pact as president. The pact, which was driven by Merkel, is meant to stabilize the bloc's economies and preserve the euro.
In not meeting with Hollande, the three leaders hoped to avoid any implication that they supported his position on the fiscal pact.
The first round of voting in the presidential election takes place on April 22, followed by a run-off on May 6.
The latest survey by pollster IFOP put Hollande at 28.5 percent of the vote in the first round, and Sarkozy at 27 percent. The poll showed Hollande would beat Sarkozy by 56.5 percent to 43.5 percent in the end.
ncy/gb (AFP, Reuters)