France's Le Pen Changes Tone on Timetable for Ditching Euro

Alicia Guzman
May 1, 2017

French presidential front-runner Emmanuel Macron hunted Saturday for votes in rural France where his far-right opponent, Marine Le Pen, is making inroads among country folk who feel left behind.

Le Pen on Saturday said ditching the euro was not her top economic priority, in a bid to broaden her support amid voters anxious over her trademark policy, ahead of the presidential election run-off May 7 vote against centrist front-runner Emmanuel Macron.

Her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, known for anti-Semitism and xenophobia, founded the party and led it until his daughter replaced him in 2011 and later kicked him out.

Ms. Le Pen said she had reached an agreement with Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, a right-wing politician who shares her distrust of the European Union and globalization and who gathered 4.7 percent of the vote, or almost 1.7 million ballots, in the election's first round.

Dupont-Aignan is a nationalist whose protectionist economic policies are close to those of the National Front's Le Pen and who, like her, wants to reduce the powers of European Union institutions.

Recent elections elsewhere in Europe have also pitted progressive, free-market, pro-European parties against nationalistic populist movements.

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Back in Paris, Le Pen announced that if she wins the presidency in the May 7 runoff she would name former rival Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, her new campaign ally, as her prime minister.

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron is paying homage to a Moroccan man killed on the sidelines of a far-right march in 1995.

"I'm not arrogant or presumptuous - no battle is won", Mr Macron said late Sunday.

Dupont-Aignan, 56, heads the Debout la France (France Stand Up) movement and, like Le Pen, favours pulling the nation from the eurozone.

"We must never forget what happened", Macron told reporters at the site, a few steps away from the Louvre museum, where he laid a wreath of white flowers in front of a plaque in memory of the victim, Brahim Bouarram.

Exactly how she would pull-out from the euro also has created some degree of confusion, even within the ranks of Le Pen's Front National party.

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Polls show Macron, of the centrist "En Marche!" party, is favored to win the May 5 election with about 60 percent of the vote.

In the first round, 22.2 percent of voters abstained: The highest percentage since 2002 when Marine Le Pen's father, Jean-Marie, surged into the second round only to be defeated overwhelmingly by conservative Jacques Chirac.

The second round will come down to a battle between the pro-European, pro-globalisation vision of Macron and Le Pen's hostility to the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Independent centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron makes a sign to bystanders as he leaves the Holocaust memorial in Paris, France, Sunday, April 30, 2017. However, he wondered whether the Front National has really changed or if it has merely altered the image it wants to convey to voters.

Hours later, Macron, who if elected would become France's youngest president at 39, paid his respects at Paris's Holocaust memorial, where he was greeted by France's grand rabbi, Haim Korsia.

Le Pen has capitalised on anti-EU feeling, and has promised a referendum on France's membership.

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Nicolas Dupont-Aignan and Marine Le Pen shake hands at the end of a joint statement at FN headquarters in Paris.

Other reports by Info About Network

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