The ex-President Sarkozy's UMP party will be represented by Valérie Hoffenberg, who is close to the former head of state, a local authority figure in Paris and secretary general of the party for relations with political parties abroad. Hoffenberg is currently in Italy, where she is holding a series of meetings with the French community and Italian politicians. "Standing in the 8th constituency is the dream of a lifetime, with Italy, Greece and Israel the three cradles of civilisation," she tells ANSA. Here, in a region "at the centre of all the problems, with the economic crisis beginning here, in Greece", Hoffenberg intends to "work personally towards the reconstruction of a European right-wing, bringing right-wing responses to the crisis". Following Sarkozy's defeat in the presidential elections, she is approaching the parliamentary battle with a degree of optimism. "It is true that France has chosen Hollande, but today's France is not left-wing," she says. "The country is half on the left and half on the right". Hoffenberg is positive with regard to a scenario of potential "cohabitation" between a Socialist President and a right-wing government. "With such serious challenges needing to be tackled today, perhaps cohabitation is indeed the solution, bringing the possibility of working together for a few years, in a sort of "national union", as currently exists in Italy". Hoffenberg, who is 48 and from Marseille, calls herself a "femme de terrain", a woman working "on the ground", in direct contact with the various social and economic groups. A political science graduate with a long executive career behind her, she has chaired the American Jewish Committee in Paris since 2004 and founded and chairs the association Terrafemina, a Mediterranean women's network. She entered the political arena in 2007, after being voted on to the Paris city council. She is close to Sarkozy, who appointed her to lead all economic affairs concerning the peace process in the Middle East, and has been decorated with the Légion d'Honneur.
"I will not just stand and watch, I will be a deputy that makes her voice heard," the UMP candidate says, before listing the key points in her election programme: "practical, concrete measures to improve the lives of French people living in Italy". Her main attention is towards employment. "I want to create bridges between economic operators and to promote courses in business for students from French schools in Italy". Focus then switches to education. "I will defend the free nature of French schools abroad introduced by Sarkozy," she adds, before moving on to tax, saying that she will "preserve the system forbidding double taxation". On the issue of women, Hoffenberg states that "in the 8th constituency, 62% of electors are women, and it is often they, as expats, who encounter the greatest difficulties". More generally, she talks of measures to maintain the link between the "français de l'étranger" and their homeland, such access to French television stations on digital terrestrial, guaranteed social security and help with the reintegration process if they decide to return to live in France.(ANSAmed).