France’s presidential candidates have been pushing their rival views of Europe, with far-right candidate Marine Le Pen calling the euro “dead” and centrist Emmanuel Macron visiting a Holocaust memorial and urging 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 on May 7 whether to choose Ms Le Pen, whose anti-EU stance could unravel post-war unity, or Mr Macron, who wants greater European cooperation and trade.
“I think the euro is dead,” Ms Le Pen was quoted as saying in Le Parisien. While she was sticking to plans for a referendum on France’s membership in the EU, MS Le Pen offered to allow big companies that operate internationally to continue using the euro while ordinary citizens would use a new franc.
Ms Le Pen was also trying to win over those worried about the worried about the environment and paid a surprise visit to a factory whose waste is at the heart of a political debate on the Mediterranean coast.
Unlike a factory visit last week when Ms Le Pen upstaged Mr Macron and took selfies with workers, her visit 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, Ms Le Pen accused the factory of being an example of “savage globalisation”. The factory has worked to clean up its waste but remains politically controversial.
Mr Macron, meanwhile, was visiting the Holocaust Memorial in Paris in his second campaign event in three days aimed at reminding voters of the anti-Semitic past of Ms Le Pen’s National Front party. Ms Le Pen has tried to detoxify the party and has broadened her support base.
Mr Macron also won a new ally with an endorsement from once-prominent centrist Jean-Louis Borloo. Mr Macron called, in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper, for a new “arch” reaching across left and right…