France’s presidential candidates are pushing their rival views of Europe, as far-right Marine Le Pen calls the shared euro currency “dead” and centrist Emmanuel Macron visits a Holocaust memorial and calls for unity.
A day after European Union leaders nailed down their negotiating stance over Britain’s departure, attention is now on France as its voters decide May 7 whether to choose Le Pen, whose anti-EU stance could unravel post-war unity, or Macron, who wants greater European cooperation and trade.
“I think the euro is dead,” Le Pen is quoted as saying in Sunday’s Le Parisien. While she is sticking to plans for a referendum on France’s membership in the EU, Le Pen offered to allow big companies that operate internationally to continue using the euro while ordinary citizens would use a new franc.
Le Pen is also trying to win over those worried about the worried about the environment and paid a surprise visit Sunday to a factory whose waste is at the heart of a political debate on the Mediterranean coast.
Unlike a factory visit last week when Le Pen upstaged Macron and took selfies with workers, however, Le Pen’s visit Sunday to the Alteo plant in the town of Gardanne appeared to fall flat. She did not meet with workers and quickly left after making a statement to a local TV crew.
In remarks carried on LCI television, Le Pen accused the factory of being an example of “savage globalization.” The factory has worked to clean up its waste but remains politically controversial.
Macron, meanwhile, is visiting the Holocaust Memorial in Paris in his second campaign event in three days aimed at reminding voters of the anti-Semitic past of Le Pen’s National Front party. Le Pen has tried to detoxify the party and has broadened her support base.
Macron also won a new ally with an endorsement from once-prominent centrist Jean-Louis Borloo. Macron called, in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper, for a new “arch” reaching across left and right to rebuild French politics.