Published: Sat, February 25, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

French far-right candidate seeks broader headscarves ban

French far-right candidate seeks broader headscarves ban

Start by betting on Marine Le Pen, says the establishment.

Amid a scandal regarding allegations of fake jobs, now under investigation, Le Pen reinforced the Front National's anti-globalist ideology by going after North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the European Union and its figureheads.

Emmanuel Macron yesterday injected new energy into his slowing run for the French presidency by striking an alliance with a veteran political star who pledged to help him win. However, those odds have narrowed sharply from just a few weeks ago, when Macron was +12% ahead of Le Pen.

"The European Union is not the solution, it's the problem", Le Pen said Thursday.

A top aide of French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has been handed preliminary charges in an investigation into money spent on her party's European Parliament assistants. However, she is accused of paying her cabinet director, Catherine Griset, more than $320,000 from that pool of funds.

Le Pen, the only woman standing in France's presidential election, has styled herself as a feminist.

She told AFP she would not speak to anti-corruption investigators during the campaign because she feared she would not get a fair hearing. She attributed actions in Iraq, Syria and Libya to the United States, as well as the fallout, from the surge in migrants to destabilization in the Mediterranean and "dangerous games with Islamic militias". Surveys of head-to-head voting intentions against her likeliest opponents suggest she would need to surmount daunting deficits-15 percentage points if she faces Mr Fillon, and a thumping 21 points versus Mr Macron.

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"We are hoping that with the election of President Donald Trump there will be a major shift, almost a complete makeover, which would be positive not only for the world but also for the United States", Le Pen said. But experts caution not to draw easy parallels.

The polls show either Macron or Fillon would beat Le Pen in the second round, although their expected margin of victory has been shrinking.

He said he would not change the highly contentious retirement age, increased to 62 for most people in the private sector under former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

"Saying that because we were wrong once, wrong twice, we're wrong on Le Pen is to understand nothing about France."

France's far-right National Front (FN) movement has never seemed closer to power.

On defense, Le Pen reiterated her distaste for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, instead calling for a policy based on French national interests, and demanding a spending hike to two percent of GDP, increased to 3 percent by the end of her five-year term.

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