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Steel towns test mettle of French candidates

2017年 4月 20日 Thursday - 01:53

The popularity of the National Front has made the French election a big political risk for markets. As Sonia Legg reports, many say the weakness of the French economy has led voters to favour more extreme politicians.

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It was once a wealthy industrial town. Now Hayange in north-eastern France has an unemployment rate of 17 percent and its steel works is rusting. This is William Hattab's solution. The young welder is off to work 20 kilometres away in Luxembourg. (SOUNDBITE) (French) 22-YEAR-OLD WELDER WHO WORKS ON TRAM NETWORK IN LUXEMBOURG CITY, WILLIAM HATTAB, SAYING: "Young people like me are disillusioned. There's nothing. With salaries of 1,200 euros we can't buy a house or ride around in a nice car, we can't have the basics of a nice life." Hattab's planning to vote for Marine Le Pen in the presidential election. He hopes her policies will raise his standard of living, even though her anti-EU stance means he could lose his freedom to work anywhere in the union. It's a dilemma facing many commuters here. (SOUNDBITE) (French) 25-YEAR-OLD CARETAKER WHO WORKS IN LUXEMBOURG, MARC SCHMITT, SAYING: "She has some good ideas and some less good ones too. "I'm totally against leaving Europe. I think independence is a really bad idea. We'll see the results with England and Brexit - It'll really ruin the country." Leaving the euro is one of Le Pen's key policies, a mark of its anti-establishment stance that attracts voters angry with globalisation. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JANE FOLEY, SENIOR CURRENCY STRATEGIST, RABOBANK, SAYING: "Just as the steel miners and coal miners in the rust belts in America may have voted for Trump because they wanted desperately for some sort of change to their economic outlook, you're seeing the same in France with the old steel mining towns looking to vote for Le Pen." Many blame the past weakness of the French economy for the current predicament. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JANE FOLEY, SENIOR CURRENCY STRATEGIST, RABOBANK, SAYING: "We've seen protest votes moving to the far left and moving to the far right and I think the governments of Europe have failed the losers of globalisation and must take some responsibility for that." The polls are predicting a close race between the top four candidates. But many voters here - and elsewhere in France - remain undecided, adding to the uncertainty.

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Steel towns test mettle of French candidates

2017年 4月 20日 Thursday - 01:53