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May 7 is the final round of the French presidential election, when French voters will choose between Marine Le Pen or Emmanuel Macron -- candidates who offer radically different programmes. Macron, the candidate for En Marche! (Onward!), favours a global outlook, a stronger European Union, and a French economy based on free trade. In contrast, Le Pen, representing the National Front, wants to close French borders, withdraw France from the EU and the eurozone, and establish protectionist economic policies. FRANCE 24 compares their platforms side by side, proposal by proposal.

Culture

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Economy

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Education

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Environment

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Immigration

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Institutions

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Foreign policy

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Health

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Security

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Society

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Text and photos: Latifa Mouahed (RFI) and Romain Brunet (FRANCE 24)
Translation: Tracy McNicoll and Avi Davis
Graphics and development: France Médias Monde Graphics Studio
Chief Editors: Sylvain Attal, Marie Valla (FRANCE 24)
Find all of FRANCE 24’s webdocs and interactive reports here: france24.com/en/webdocumentaries/

Culture

“I want every young person to have access to culture of all kinds.”

  • Libraries open evenings and Sundays
  • A €500 Culture Pass for 18-year-olds. The pass would allow young people access via an app to cultural activities of their choosing: museums, theatre, cinema, concerts, books and recorded music
  • A dedicated €200-million investment fund to support French creative and cultural industries



“A France that creates and spreads its influence.”

  • Legislation to “preserve, maintain and highlight national heritage”
  • End the sale of heritage properties to “foreign powers”
  • Develop individual sponsorship that would allow anyone to contribute financially to a cultural programme and benefit from a tax rebate in return
  • Constitutionally guarantee “digital freedom” and repeal the Hadopi Law on Internet copyright infringement.
  • Apply the rule of proportional representation to the two parliamentary television channels’ political programmes
  • Pursue an aggressive “Francophone” policy to promote the French language via public media organisations that broadcast beyond France’s borders

Economy

  • Revise the Labour Law to allow businesses to negotiate working conditions with their employees and to set a maximum limit on the indemnities that can be awarded by a labour court
  • Progressively diminish the corporate tax from 33 percent to 25 percent
  • Transform the Tax Credit for Competitiveness and Employment (CICE) into a permanent reduction of six points on social benefit contributions and eliminate employer contributions for minimum-wage employees
  • Create “frank jobs”: Any business that hires a resident from a “priority” neighbourhood to a permanent position will receive a €15,000 bonus spread over three years
  • Reduce social contributions for independent workers

Unemployment

“I want protection against unemployment to become universal, extended to those who do not have a right to it today.”

  • Create universal unemployment insurance that covers the entire workforce: employees, artisans, independent merchants, entrepreneurs, professionals and farmers
  • Eliminate indemnities after a beneficiary declines two “acceptable” job offers

Taxation and Purchasing power

“Exempting people from residency tax is the most essential and fair measure for increasing purchasing power.”

  • Exempt 80 percent of households from residency tax
  • Reduce employee contributions to raise employees’ net revenue, revoke the exemption on social contributions for overtime hours



Marine Le Pen advocates for “intelligent protectionism” and “a new patriotic model in support of employment”.

Employment

  • Repeal the Labour Law known as the El Khomri Law
  • Maintain the 35-hour workweek
  • Tax the hiring of foreign employees in order to favour French nationals
  • Hire 21,000 public servants for the police, customs service and in hospitals
  • Preserve the status of public servants and increase their salaries
  • Introduce a “First job” plan that would completely exempt a first job for a young person under 21 from social contributions

Purchasing power

  • Establish a purchasing-power bonus for people earning less than €1,500 per month
  • Nationalise highways
  • Reduce the price of gas, electricity and train journeys by 5 percent
  • Reduce taxes on oil in order to push down the price of gas at the pumps

Businesses

  • Transform the Tax Credit for Competitiveness and Employment (CICE) into a reduction of social and employer contributions
  • Reduce corporate taxes
  • Introduce a 35 percent tax on products manufactured by companies that have outsourced their production
  • Return to a national (not EU) agricultural policy
  • Exempt overtime hours from taxation

Taxation

  • Introduce a 10 percent reduction on the three first income-tax tranches
  • Freeze residency tax
  • Exempt family gifts from taxes: Donations from parents to their children under €100,000 euros per child every five years and €50,000 euros for grandchildren would not be taxed

Education

“We need to invest much more for those who have less, in order to end disparities.”

  • Limit class size to 12 students in the first and second year of elementary school (Year Two and Year Three in the UK) in educational priority zones (Réseaux d’éducation prioritaire)
  • Create catch-up courses at the end of the year and personalised assessments at the beginning of the year for struggling students
  • Reinforce the independence of schools and universities
  • Invest 15 billion euros over five years to overhaul state-run professional training



“Teaching France, transmitting French values.”

  • Eliminate the universal curriculum for middle schools (UK: primary or secondary school)
  • Guarantee education in fundamental subjects (French language, history, mathematics)
  • End programmes that teach the languages and cultures of France’s major immigrant groups in public schools (enseignements de langue et culture d’origine)
  • Eliminate the “Fioraso” law which allows university classes to be taught in foreign languages, including English
  • Offer apprenticeships starting at 14 years old, to “make manual work attractive again”
  • Re-establish respect for teachers
  • Re-establish the meritocratic selection of students and eliminate lottery selection

Environment

“I’m going to have a more ambitious investment plan, and one pillar will be ecology and transforming our growth model.”

  • Reduce French dependence on nuclear power to 50 percent by 2025
  • Tax diesel at the same level as gas
  • Make sure that at least 50 percent of the food on offer in school and business cafeterias is organic within five years
  • Launch a plan for renovating public buildings at the state and local level in order to cut down on energy use



“Environment and energy transition: France must aim for excellence.”

  • Apply a system of “economic patriotism” to prioritise French produce
  • Boost renewable energy (solar, biomass energy), but place a moratorium on wind energy
  • Make improving the treatment of animals a “national priority”; ban the slaughter of animals without prior stunning
  • Stop industrial farming
  • Maintain investment in the nuclear industry and end plans to close the Fessenheim nuclear power plant

Immigration

“A political refugee is not someone who has chosen to leave his country for comfort’s sake.”

  • Establish local programmes for integration and French-language learning
  • Introduce new measures to attract foreign talent (entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, artists)
  • Accelerate the procedure for examining asylum requests with the goal of providing a decision within eight weeks
  • Bolster law enforcement at Europe’s borders



“Get back to borders that protect us and end out-of-control immigration.”

  • Re-establish border inspections and withdraw from the Schengen Agreement
  • Limit the number of legal admissions onto French territory to 10,000 per year. The average number of legal admissions per year between 2004 and 2012 is estimated at 200,000
  • Limit conditions for asylum: instead of requiring that an asylum-seeker be present on French soil in order to apply, applications should be filed at French embassies and consulates in an asylum-seeker’s country of origin or its neighbouring countries
  • Toughen family reunification rules
  • Limit the arrival of foreign workers to sectors where finding new hires has proven difficult

Nationality

  • Eliminate the principle of jus soli ( the right of the soil): French nationality will be obtained through ancestry or by naturalisation at the age of majority
  • Ban French dual nationality for non-Europeans
  • Ban the naturalisation of undocumented foreigners
  • Establish a national preference: eliminate State Medical Aid (AME), which benefits numerous foreigners; make French citizens a priority for social housing; minimum welfare payments should go solely to French nationals

Institutions

“The renewal that our compatriots aspire to is a renewal of civic life; we must put pluralism and higher ethical standards back into public life.”

  • Introduce a wide-reaching law on ethical standards in public life
  • Ban parliamentarians from employing members of their own families
  • Ban elected officials from holding an office for more than three consecutive terms
  • Increase parliamentary monitoring of the government
  • Cut the number of parliamentarians by a third



“Let the people speak and establish a democracy that is close to the people.”

  • Hold a referendum on widespread institutional reform that introduces proportional representation
  • Allow referenda based on public initiative once at least 500,000 voters have signed on to a request
  • Inscribe “the defence of our people’s identity and our cultural and historical heritage” as national priorities in the constitution
  • Reduce the number of parliamentarians
  • Increase the length of a presidential term from five to seven years and make it non-renewable
  • Limit elected officials’ ability to hold multiple offices at the same time

Foreign policy

“We need Europe because Europe makes us greater, because Europe makes us stronger.”

Europe

  • Create the position of Economy and Finance Minister for the eurozone (the group of countries that hold the euro currency), as well as a eurozone budget. The latter will have three purposes: forward-looking investments, emergency financial assistance, and economic crisis response.
  • Create a European defence fund and a European Security Council

World

“I want our policy abroad to be uncompromising. We must combat Islamist terrorism in order to protect our children.”

  • Track and eliminate the sponsors and instigators of attacks on French soil
  • In favour of military intervention in Syria under the auspices of the United Nations and of the eventual departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
  • In favour of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • In favour of maintaining sanctions against Russia “for as long as the Minsk Agreements are not respected” in Ukraine



“Command respect for France.”

Europe

  • Renegotiate all European treaties within six months. After that period, it will be up to the French people to validate or reject the result of the negotiations by referendum
  • Withdraw from the euro and the Schengen Agreement
  • Denounce all free trade accords, such as CETA between the EU and Canada
  • Eliminate the European directive on workers from one country posted to jobs in another (280,000 of whom are posted in France, or the equivalent of 40,000 full-time positions, out of a total of 18 million employees)

World

  • In favour of a rapprochement with Moscow
  • Increase French aid to Africa to 0.7 percent of GNP. Prioritise countries in the Sahel region
  • Withdraw from NATO’s integrated command
  • Oppose intervention in Syria

Health

“When we talk about health, we are talking about a system with deep social and regional inequalities that poses huge challenges that we must overcome.”

  • Increase preventative measures
  • Aim for 100 percent reimbursement for the cost of glasses, braces, and hearing aids by 2022
  • Double the number of multi-purpose health centres to eliminate underserved health zones
  • Allow more pharmaceuticals to be sold per unit



“Protect the health of the French people 100 percent.”

  • Improve reimbursement of medical costs via private insurance
  • Improve healthcare access for underserved medical areas
  • Keep the “Leonetti law” on end-of-life care, allowing patients to end treatment
  • Improve France’s social security system for seniors and disabled people

Security

Domestic

“The police have three jobs: intelligence, intervention, and protecting the public. We’ve forgotten about protection and confused it with intervention.”

  • Establish daily police patrols
  • Recruit an additional 10,000 police and gendarmes within five years
  • Build an additional 15,000 spaces in prison

Defence

  • Improve intelligence with a special anti-Islamic State group unit
  • Progressively increase defence spending up to 2 percent of GDP by 2025
  • Bring back a one-month-long compulsory military service



Domestic

“Eradicating terrorism and breaking the Islamic fundamentalist network.”

  • Reinforce spending on domestic and foreign intelligence
  • Ban and dissolve all Islamist fundamentalist organisations
  • Reinstate WWII-era penal codes to strip convicted terrorists of their civic rights
  • Create an anti-terrorism agency that would report directly to the prime minister
  • Deport all non-citizens on the official Fiche S terror watch list; strip nationality from dual citizens convicted of terrorism offences
  • Repeal the “Dati” and “Taubira” prison reform laws which reduce some sentences, in order to end “judicial laxity”
  • Build an additional 40,000 places in prison
  • “Disarm” France’s poor suburbs by targeting 5,000 gang leaders identified by the Interior Ministry
  • Establish mandatory life imprisonment for the most serious cases

“Restore order to the French Republic – the law everywhere and for everyone."

Defence

  • Fix the defence budget at 2 percent of GDP immediately, and increase it to 3 percent (or €60 billion) by 2022 (compared to €40 billion in 2017)
  • Re-establish a compulsory military service of at least three months
  • Build a second aircraft carrier at a cost of €4.5 billion
  • Increase the number of police and gendarmes by 15,000
  • Consolidate the army and add 24,000 new recruits

Society

Secularism

“Secularism: it’s a word that we can never hear enough, and it is a liberty more than a prohibition. It is a law of tolerance.”

  • Teach secularism at school
  • Oppose banning Muslim headscarves at universities
  • Create a new officially recognised French Muslim council
  • Provide training for French imams

Family

“The fact that in vitro fertilisation is not available to lesbian couples or single women is unacceptable discrimination.”

  • Create universal maternity leave for all mothers, no matter their situation (employee, business owner, temporary employee, or unemployed)
  • Support in vitro fertilisation for single women and lesbian couples
  • Recognise the parenthood of children born from surrogate mothers abroad, but ban surrogate motherhood in France

Retirement

“For each euro paid into a retirement scheme, every person should get the same rights to a pension.”

  • Create a universal retirement scheme to end inequalities between employees in the private and public spheres
  • Raise the minimum pension to above €900



“Let every person find their place.”

Secularism

  • Toughen the 2004 law against wearing religious symbols in public places
  • Impose “secularity, but also neutrality and security” by re-introducing school uniforms, and by banning the Muslim headscarf at university
  • Expand secularism to cover all public spaces, making it part of the Labour Law

Family

  • Re-establish universal social welfare for all French families
  • Ban in vitro fertilisation for single women and lesbian couples
  • Increase benefits for disabled people

Retirement

  • Lower the retirement age to 60
  • Increase the minimum pension and limit it to those with French nationality or a minimum of 20 years residency in France