France's CFDT Union Issues Talking Points to Combat Le Pen

  • Largest union says Le Pen would undermine economy, democracy
  • CFDT asks the other 10 candidates views on labor law, Europe

Marine Le Pen is not a presidential candidate “like any other,” France’s largest union, the CFDT, said Monday, refusing to invite her to present her platform to its 860,000 members and issuing a four-page memo to help combat her views.

Le Pen is leading in polls for the first round of voting on April 23, though those same polls indicate she will likely lose the May 7 run-off to whoever she faces. Much of her support comes from working class voters, many of whom have broken with left-leaning unions.

The CFDT said in statement today that it has sent a 35-point questionnaire to 10 of the 11 candidates in the race to ask their views on labor law, welfare protection and European policies. It did not send one to Le Pen’s National Front because “its rhetoric and its project are contrary to the democratic, fraternal and progressive values that the CFDT defends,” the union said.

“Its economic program is irresponsible, its social policies are discriminatory and xenophobic and its political project is authoritarian and undemocratic,” the union said.

The CFDT’s memo is set up as a series of answers to the National Front’s platform. It says France would lose international influence if it quit the European Union, that leaving the euro would impoverish the French, that protectionism won’t help French industry and excluding foreigners from certain jobs and welfare programs wouldn’t help native-born workers.

The CFDT is France’s largest union in terms of membership, though its more leftist rival the CGT generally wins more votes in elections for worker representation. French unions tend not to endorse candidates, though all the main unions have openly opposed Le Pen even as studies have shown that members increasingly support her.

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