POLITICS
13/03/2012 06:47 GMT | Updated 13/03/2012 07:05 GMT

French Election: Far-Right Marine Le Pen Secures Presidential Run

The leader of France's far-right party Marine Le Pen has gathered enough signatures to mount a presidential campaign, the Front National party announced.

French law requires candidates to gather 500 endorsements from elected officials before they can stand.

Le Pen took over the Front National party from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen in January 2011.

In the 2002 election Le Pen's father made it into the second round vote-off against Jacques Chirac.

His daughter has been described as a "charismatic speaker", and while La Pen had difficulty finding the signatures ahead of the 16 March deadline, polls put her at third in the race.

"I have my 500 signatures and therefore I will be a candidate in the presidential election," she said.

There is even a remote possibility she could win the first round of voting, according to Ifop, although she is unlikely to seriously challenge conservative Nicolas Sarkozy or Socialist Francois Hollande in the second vote.

The latest poll put Sarkozy ahead in the first round for the first time, with 28.5%. Hollande is on 27% and Le Pen 16%.

The same poll said that Sarkozy would lose the second-round run-off by 54.4% to 45.5%, the BBC said.

The Front National is an anti-immigration party which advocates protectionism and aggressive law and order policies.

More recently the party has campaigned to leave the Euro.