French presidential election: how the candidates compare | World news


Voters cast their ballots in the first round of the French presidential election on 23 April, with candidates ranging from far right to hard left vying to reach a second round run-off and, from there, the Elysée Palace.

The policies of the top five contenders – François Fillon, Marine Le Pen, Benoît Hamon, Emmanuel Macron and Jean-Luc Mélenchon – on state spending, immigration, the environment and the economy reveal their different positions.

Labour and welfare

Scrap France’s 35-hour week and allow companies to negotiate staff working hours. Boost businesses by reducing corporate taxes by €40bn (£35bn). Raise the retirement age from 62 to 65. Put a progressive cap on unemployment benefits. Reform the labour code to allow more flexibility for businesses. Reduce social charges on the lowest salaries.

The state, finances and society

Reduce public spending by €100bn in five years. Cut 500,000 public sector jobs, or 8% of the public sector workforce. Increase public sector working hours from 35 to 39 hours a week in areas such as health and state administration. Reform social security coverage and health system payments. Streamline benefits by introducing a single payment. Cut benefits to families if a child skips school or commits anti-social behaviour.

Bring back school uniform. Rewrite school history teaching to give more sense of the glorious moments of French history. Maintain the ban on medically assisted procreation such as IVF and the use of sperm donors for single women and women in same-sex relationships. Limit parental rights for same-sex couples.


Reform the Schengen travel accords to tighten control of the EU’s external borders. Stronger EU cooperation on defence. A political…

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