The Conseil Constitutionnel has ruled against Marine Le Pen in her bid to have parrainages made anonymous. So the question now arises: Is she bluffing about not being able to obtain the signatures? In an analysis to which I linked previously, Arun Kapil suggested that this time the difficulty might be real, because Sarkozy is so afraid of losing in the first round that he has discouraged UMP mayors and other eligible parrains from signing. But this begs the question of why the Socialists aren't stepping in to replace reluctant UMP officials. After all, they presumably have an interest in seeing MLP on the ballot, since she will drain votes from Sarkozy. And the Socialists, who are much stronger on the local than on the national level, influence many potential parrains.
Of course the PS will not want to be seen as encouraging an MLP candidacy. The cynicism of such a move would remind voters of Mitterrand's cynicism in instrumentalizing the FN in the first place. But there is also a principle to be defended, namely, that there is no democracy in a country if a party representing 16-20% of the electorate is excluded from the race, however distasteful one might find that party's ideology. So the Socialists might have their cake and eat it too, helping Le Pen on principle while helping themselves in practice. But would they dare?
In any case, I think someone must dare, because I think it sets a very bad precedent for those in power to decide who may or may not bid to replace them. It reeks of le suffrage censitaire to allow an elite consisting of those already in place to decide whose ideologies are acceptable and whose are not. No one is less enamored of Ms. Le Pen than I, but she is a reality that must be faced and a force that must be defeated, not sidelined by chicanery to fester in darkness.