The Latest: Le Pen lays out platform for French economy

The Latest: Le Pen lays out platform for French economy

By The Associated Press | Posted - Mar. 2, 2017 at 2:56 p.m.

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PARIS (AP) — The Latest on the French presidential election campaign (all times local):

9:25 p.m.

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen envisions the protective hand of the state guiding a reordered economy that punishes companies that fail to serve the interests of the nation and rewards those that put France first.

In a speech on Wednesday, Le Pen laid out the nationalist policies based on "economic patriotism" that would be put enacted if she wins the two-round presidential election.

They include a tax of up to 35 percent for French companies that produce their goods elsewhere then reimport them. Companies that respect the made-in-France label end-to-end would be compensated.

To create jobs, Le Pen wants to make the "reconquest" of French markets a priority.

She said: "No country has ever succeeded in building its industry without protecting it."

Le Pen, who is currently jockeying for the top spot in polls with independent centrist Emmanuel Macron, also wants to pull France out of the European Union and the euro currency.


8:50 p.m.

Police officials say authorities searched the Paris home of French presidential candidate Francois Fillon in an investigation into parliamentary jobs for his family members.

Two police officials said the search was carried out Thursday morning. The officials, who were not authorized to publicly comment on the investigation, would not provide further details.

Lawyers for Fillon and his wife Penelope would not comment on the search.

In a campaign rally in Nimes in southern France on Thursday night, Fillon said, "My life has been put to the test in recent weeks" and is being "dissected" because of the jobs allegations.

Fillon is struggling to keep his conservative party together amid discord over his decision to continue his campaign despite facing preliminary charges in the jobs investigation.

He denies wrongdoing in the case, in which he's accused of arranging taxpayer-funded jobs for his wife and two of his children that they never did.

"Standing before you is a fighter," he told the cheering crowd.


Associated Press Writer Angela Charlton prepared this report.


7:05 p.m.

French conservative Francois Fillon's presidential bid is hitting new trouble, with more defections from his campaign because of pending corruption charges against him.

The campaign treasurer and three legislators from his Republicans party announced Thursday they are quitting his campaign, amid growing pressure for Fillon to step down in favor of someone else.

Treasurer Gilles Boyer tweeted his departure, while legislators Benoist Apparu, Edouard Philippe and Christophe Bechu said in a statement that the campaign has taken a turn "incompatible" with their political vision. They're particularly angry that Fillon initially said he would step down if charged, but decided Wednesday to maintain his candidacy even though he's been summoned to face charges March 15.

Fillon denies the accusations, which center on allegations that he arranged taxpayer-funded jobs for his family that they never performed.

Others are also reportedly quitting the campaign, mainly those who supported staunchly conservative Fillon's more moderate rival Alain Juppe in last year's primary. Juppe was runnerup, but has said he doesn't want to run in Fillon's place.

Fillon's supporters meanwhile plan a rally near the Eiffel Tower on Sunday that they hope will help hold the campaign together.


3:00 p.m.

France's minister of culture says a rise in ultra-nationalism in France will negatively impact the prized French fashion industry that relies strongly on foreign talent.

Audrey Azoulay told The Associated Press outside the Chloe show in Paris Thursday that a "populist power" like the National Front, which wants France to exit the EU, would be "absolutely incompatible with the idea of fashion and freedom."

Azoulay added "a lot of our great fashion designers come from elsewhere."

National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who's leading in polls for the April-May elections, has campaigned in favor of leaving the EU and against immigration.

Each season hundreds of fashion industry workers with EU passports travel to Paris without visas because of the EU freedom of movement rules.


1:15 p.m.

French independent presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron says he wants tight security cooperation with the U.S. despite his ideological differences with Donald Trump.

Macron on Thursday called Trump's skepticism toward the Paris Agreement to fight global warming "a deep mistake" and expressed opposition to proposed U.S. protectionist trade measures.

But he said he would ask Trump to respect decades of French-US security alliances, most notably in recent times fighting the Islamic State group.

Macron, who presented his platform Thursday in Paris, wants to cut the number of lawmakers, introduce term limits and ban officials from hiring family members.

He said he would lead a "demanding" policy toward Russia, but that could involve easing sanctions if Russia fulfills promises under European-brokered efforts to seek peace in eastern Ukraine.


12:05 p.m.

The European Parliament has voted to lift French far-right leader Marine Le Pen's immunity from prosecution.

The legislature voted by a broad majority in Brussels on Thursday to clear the way for the possible prosecution of Le Pen over her tweets of gruesome images of violence by Islamic State extremists. Le Pen, a leading candidate in this year's French presidential election, posted them in response to a journalist who drew an analogy between her anti-immigration National Front party and IS extremists.

Le Pen was trying to show the difference between the two groups but the effort backfired, drawing widespread condemnation. The French interior minister accused her of fomenting Islamic State propaganda.

Le Pen, in addition to being the leader of France's far-right National Front party, is also a lawmaker with the European Parliament.


11:25 a.m.

Amid growing French political scandals, centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron wants to shrink the size of parliament, introduce term limits — and ban officials from hiring their family members.

In releasing his presidential platform Thursday, he said he wants to "eradicate conflicts of interest."

Two of Macron's chief rivals for the April-May two-round vote — conservative Francois Fillon and far-right leader Marine Le Pen — are facing corruption investigations. Macron, a 39-year-old who has never held elected office, is presenting himself as a fresh face without political baggage.

His platform calls for cutting the size of both houses of parliament by a third, banning lawmakers from consulting activity and banning all officials from employing family members.


11:20 a.m.

Centrist French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron says the remaining 27 European Union members must vigorously defend their single market in talks with Britain on its exit.

Macron, in presenting his platform Thursday, also urged efforts to reinvigorate the eurozone and closer European cooperation. He said the EU cannot survive "without a real European strategy" and called for a "new impulse for the single market."

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen wants to pull France out of the EU and eurozone, and there has been growing anti-EU sentiment in many countries since Britain's vote to leave.

Polls suggest Macron and Le Pen may face off in the May 7 presidential runoff.


11:10 a.m.

Independent French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron wants an international "roadmap" to better fight Islamic extremism from the Mideast to Africa.

In releasing his presidential platform Thursday, Macron also called for increased military spending to 2 percent of GDP — as U.S. and other NATO allies have long demanded.

He would hire 10,000 more police and create 15,000 more places in prison and boost efforts to improve relations between police and minority youths in poor suburbs.

Macron's critics on the right have called him too soft on security. Polls suggest he could face far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who has made fighting Islamic extremism central to her campaign, in the May 7 presidential runoff.


8:20 a.m.

With just 52 days left before French voters choose their president, the man leading polls is only now releasing his campaign platform.

Until now, Emmanuel Macron has risen to popularity largely based on what he is not - he's neither left nor right, he has no party, and he's the only top contender not facing corruption investigations.

Macron lays out his platform Thursday on an upswing, as pressure mounts on conservative rival Francois Fillon, facing charges that he arranged taxpayer-funded jobs for his family that they never performed.

Denying wrongdoing, Fillon vowed Wednesday to pursue his candidacy even if he's charged, but is now struggling to keep his party from falling apart.

Polls suggest Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen will be the top two vote-getters in the April 23 first round and advance to the May 7.

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