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French presidential election campaign - Sarkozy's spokeswoman contradicts her boss

By Johnny Summerton
Posted Mar 6, 2012 in Politics
Sometimes a spokesperson doesn't quite say what he or she is supposed to, and when that happens in politics it can even appear to something of a contradiction in policy direction.
Such was the case on Sunday when Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, who's thankfully more commonly known in France by her initials NKM, seemed to distance herself from one of the ideas expressed by interior minister Claude Guéant on the reasons for not extending the right to vote to non-EU residents in France.
Remember what he said? And in particular the sort of "threats" such a move would pose to society.
"We don't want foreigners becoming elected local councillors and then making halal meat obligatory in workplace canteens or public swimming pools being segregated according to sex."
Well, the link Guéant made between the reasons for not extending the right to vote to non-EU residents and faith-based meals in canteens, wasn't one NKM particularly appreciated.
She doesn't approve of either it appears, but also thinks the connection between the two is an "unnecessary" one.
And she said as much during an extended interview with Anne-Sophie Lapix, the presenter of the weekly political magazine Dimanche + last Sunday on Canal +.
Asked by Lapix whether she had the same fear that extending the vote would also lead to halal food in canteens, NKM took quite a somewhat different approach to that of Guéant - and indeed seemed to criticise him.
"I think there are enough reasons to be against extending the vote to foreigners in terms of it being the right of citizenship, and I think there are enough reasons to be against faith-based meals in canteens," she said.
"It's not necessary to make a link between the two."
That's all well and good: NKM not agreeing with Guéant, the man, who until he became interior minister in February 2011 had been a close political advisor to Nicolas Sarkozy for nine years.
In other words, Guéant rarely says something without having had it green-lighted by Sarkozy.
But worse, as far as NKM's comment was concerned, Sarkozy had made exactly the same link between the two as Guéant during a lengthy interview in Le Figaro just days before he officially announced he would be running for re-election.
"If non-EU foreigners could vote in France today, just think what would happen at a local level," he said.
"Questions would start being asked about whether halal food be introduced into school cafeterias and public swimming pools being segregated," he continued.
"Is this what we want? My answer is no. Voting must remain linked to citizenship."
You see?
Precisely the same ideas and argumentation linked in a way which NKM said was "unnecessary".
Oh well.
Perhaps NKM hadn't been briefed sufficiently well as at the time she was still the
minister for ecology, sustainable energy, transport and housing, only stepping down once she had been appointed spokesperson for Sarkozy during his presidential campaign.

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