For several of the candidates in next month’s French presidential election, registering on time their required 500 endorsements from town mayors represents a victory in itself.
They have succeeded in crossing the first finish line – now sees the start of the real race for the French presidency.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon has largely united what in the past has been a fractured hard left.
Some opinion polls give him over 10 percent of voting intentions.
“The official campaign starts now. I wonder what’s going to be different from the one that wasn’t official, but we still have lots of work to do. They say it’s like crossing a threshold,” he said after handing in his endorsements to the Constitutional Court.
Ten candidates have managed to secure the 500 signatures they needed.
Nicolas Sarkozy, fighting an uphill battle to win a second term, has been catching up in the polls.
He has been accused of pandering to the far right by adopting a tough anti-immigration stance and
threatening to pull out of Europe’s open border Schengen zone unless immigration controls are tightened.
Socialist François Hollande, still favourite to win a second-round run-off, has won backing elsewhere in Europe over his call for more growth, less austerity – but has been accused of irresponsibility.
In third place in the polls, Front National contender Marine Le Pen also succeeded in her quest for endorsements, though she said it went up to the wire.