Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron: Where the French Candidates Stand
PARIS — As Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen prepare to face off in a presidential election on Sunday that will determine the future of France — and of Europe — the candidates are presenting vastly different views on core issues.
Ms. Le Pen, the far-right candidate of the National Front, is campaigning on an anti-immigration, anti-European Union, anti-globalization platform. Mr. Macron, a former economy minister and investment banker, is pro-business, in favor of free trade, and open to reinforcing economic and security ties with Europe.
With many French voters still undecided, we look at the candidates’ views on some of the major issues.
Ms. Le Pen sees the European Union as the root of many of France’s ills, and argues that France would be better off outside the bloc. She has pledged to start negotiations with Brussels to overhaul European institutions as soon as she is elected, and to hold a national referendum on taking France out of the union. She also wants France to abandon the euro and bring back a national currency — an idea that has rattled business leaders and financial markets. She would also pull France out of European trade agreements that, in her view, harm its interests.
Mr. Macron says all that would be a disaster from which France — and Europe — might never recover. He wants more integration and cooperation with the European Union on fiscal, trade and social legislation, and he has called for a dedicated budget for the eurozone. He says he would also negotiate a deal between the European Union and China on economic, environmental and security issues.
As other European countries recover from the financial crisis, France’s economy has remained stagnant, with unemployment stuck around 10 percent for four years.
Mr. Macron, who wants to keep France open to globalization, says he would jump-start stagnant growth with a business-friendly labor and tax overhaul that would make it easier for companies to hire and fire workers. He has vowed to cut taxes for workers and corporations and to invest 50 billion euros, or about $55 billion, in training, the environment, agriculture and infrastructure, while cutting €60 billion in public spending.
Ms. Le Pen says the types of deregulatory policies that Mr. Macron embraces would only make the position of workers more precarious. She calls for “intelligent protectionism” and backs nationalistic economic policies, such as favoring French businesses for public contracts. She would cut taxes for small businesses and put a 35 percent tax on products made by French companies abroad, while raising taxes on foreign workers to try to ensure “priority hiring of French people.”
Ms. Le Pen has seized on recent terrorist attacks and the influx of refugees into Europe to make immigration one of the hot-button issues of the campaign. She says she would restore national border controls and pull France from Schengen, an agreement that allows citizens of European countries to move freely among signatory nations. Legal immigration would be capped at 10,000 people a year, and refugees could apply for asylum only from outside France.
Mr. Macron says he would make France more attractive to skilled immigrants by shortening the visa application process, promoting “talent” visas and financing programs to help immigrants become more fluent in French. He would strengthen border security by hiring 5,000 more border guards, and would speed the process for asylum requests so that those who are denied could not linger in the country.
Tackling what Ms. Le Pen calls Islamic fundamentalism is a central axis of her campaign. She plans to dismantle organizations suspected of falling under extremist influence, deport foreigners suspected of having ties with Islamist extremist groups, and strip binational extremists of citizenship. To maintain security, she says she would add 50,000 military posts and 15,000 police jobs, and increase prison capacity by 40,000.
Mr. Macron wants to strengthen counterterrorism activity at the European level and reinforce French security and intelligence services. He hopes to recruit 10,000 additional police officers and increase prison capacity by 15,000. Cybersecurity and cyberdefense would be a national priority. He also favors creating a European defense fund and a European security council to help combat terrorism. And he would maintain a state of emergency put in place after the Paris terrorist attacks of November 2015.