Programs of the French Presidential Candidates, Compared

Policies include leaving NATO, legalizing cannabis, raising the retirement age and renationalizing motorways.

Twelve candidates have qualified to compete in the French presidential election. Only six are polling at more than few percentage points. I will summarize their policies here, plus those of Anne Hidalgo. The mayor of Paris has just 2 percent support in recent surveys, but her Socialist Party could still be a force in the legislative elections in June.

The comparison reveals strange bedfellows. The centrist Emmanuel Macron and center-right Valérie Pécresse see eye to eye on asylum and pension reform. Macron’s climate policies are closer to the Green party’s candidate, Yannick Jadot. Jadot and the far-right Marine Le Pen emphasize animal welfare. Le Pen and the far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon agree on renationalizing motorways. Mélenchon and the far-right Éric Zemmour believe NATO is obsolete.

Emmanuel Macron

The incumbent has 26 to 28 percent support in surveys for the first voting round on April 10.

  • €50 billion to build fifty offshore wind farms and six nuclear power reactors, double onshore wind power and increase solar energy output tenfold by 2050.
  • €15 billion in tax cuts financed by administrative spending cuts.
  • Achieve 100-percent French supply chains in electric cars, solar panels and wind turbines.
  • Create 200 new gendarmerie brigades. (There are about 3,600.)
  • Cut inheritance tax.
  • Give all French a one-time, tax-free cheque of up to €6,000 to cope with inflation.
  • Hire 8,500 magistrates and judicial staff.
  • Integrate European armed forces.
  • Raise subsidies for single parents.
  • Raise teachers’ pay and give schools more autonomy.
  • Raise the retirement age from 62 to 65. Raise the minimum pension to €1,100 per month. Merge France’s 42 public pension schemes into a single, points-based system.
  • Simplify asylum procedures.

Marine Le Pen

The leader of the far-right National Rally has 17 to 21 percent support.

  • Abolish inheritance tax for low and middle incomes.
  • Ban the slaughter of conscious animals.
  • Centralize French language and history in high-school curricula.
  • Double subsidies for single parents.
  • End family reunification as criterion for residence.
  • Exempt workers under the age of 30 from income tax.
  • Give native French priority in employment and social housing.
  • Privatize public broadcasting and abolish the license fee.
  • Process asylum applications abroad, not in France.
  • Renationalize motorways to reduce tolls by 15 percent.
  • Restore mandatory minimum prison sentences and abolish early release.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon

The leader of the far-left France Unbowed is consolidating left-wing support. He polled at 9 to 11 percent earlier this year, but is now at 14-15 percent.

  • €200 billion in ecological and social investments.
  • 100-percent tax on inheritances over €12 million.
  • Ban factory farming.
  • Ensure a minimum monthly after-tax income of €1,400.
  • Guarantee jobs for all.
  • Leave NATO.
  • Legalize cannabis under a state monopoly.
  • Liberalize immigration laws.
  • Lower the pension age from 62 to 60.
  • Phase out nuclear power.
  • Raise tax on incomes over €4,000 per month.
  • Reduce the working week to 32 hours in some jobs.
  • Reinstate the wealth tax (abolished by Macron).
  • Renationalize motorways, rail and utilities.

Valérie Pécresse

The leader of the center-right Republicans has 9 to 11 percent support.

  • Condition residency on learning French.
  • Cut 200,000 administrative jobs.
  • Cut social aid for illegal immigrants.
  • Hire 25,000 caregivers and cut red tape in hospitals.
  • Introduce immigration quotas for countries and professions.
  • Raise the retirement age from 62 to 65.
  • Simplify asylum procedures.

Éric Zemmour

The leader of the new far-right party Reconquest has 9 to 11 percent support.

  • Ban non-French baby names.
  • Build 10,000 more prison cells.
  • Close the approximately 540 mosques operated by Islamists.
  • Cut €30 billion in business taxes.
  • Deport recidivists with dual nationality.
  • End family reunification as criterion for residence.
  • Leave NATO.
  • Process asylum applications abroad, not in France.
  • Restore mandatory minimum sentences.
  • Shift French foreign policy away from America and toward Russia.
  • Stipulate French preference in public procurement.
  • Stop most immigration.

Yannick Jadot

The Green party candidate has 4 to 6 percent support.

  • Ban Russian energy imports.
  • Ban short flights where trains are available.
  • Ban single-use plastics by 2030.
  • Build 3,000 onshore wind turbines and 40 km² of solar panels by 2027.
  • Cut use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides in half by 2027. (EU goal is 2030.)
  • End cage farming and reduce the amount of fish caught.
  • Equal pay for men and women.
  • Legalize cannabis.
  • Phase out nuclear power.
  • Provide legal status to migrants who have a job, family or children in school.
  • Raise tax on assets over €2 million.
  • Require medicine graduates to practice in an underserved community for three years.

Anne Hidalgo

The Socialist Party candidate has 2 percent support in most recent surveys.

  • Build 150,000 social housing units per year.
  • Cut industry greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2035.
  • Equal pay for men and women.
  • Hire more police.
  • Keep the retirement age at 62.
  • Relax debt and deficit rules in the EU.
  • Raise teachers’ pay.
  • Raise the minimum wage from €1,230 to €1,430 per month.
  • Train 15,000 new doctors per year.