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By Brian Love
PARIS, March 31 If French voters do not want to
leave the euro, Marine Le Pen's National Front party will not
force them to should she become president in May, the party's
secretary general said on Friday.
"It's not the be-all and end-all of our programme," Nicolas
Bay said in a radio interview. "We will put it to a referendum.
We will not impose anything on the people. If the French want to
keep the euro they will keep it," he told RTL.
Le Pen, tipped by opinion polls to face staunchly pro-common
currency candidate Emmanuel Macron in the presidential runoff
vote on May 7, has said she would resign from the presidency if
voters subsequently rejected proposals she puts to them via a
"What do you expect me to do? I'd leave," she told guests of
the business federation Ethic at a March 7 gathering in Paris.
"I can't deliver on an entire programme if we do not have
the means and the leverage to do so."
A majority of National Front supporters opposes the euro
but 72 percent of the overall French electorate do not want to
revert to the franc, an Ipsos poll published this month said.
The euro replaced national currencies in everyday usage in
2002 across the euro zone, which spans 19 of the 28 countries in
the European Union.
All opinion polls to date predict a heavy Le Pen defeat in
the final two-way playoff, despite being more or less neck and
neck with favourite Macron in the opening vote on April 23,
where all but two of the 11 contenders will be eliminated.
Le Pen told Le Parisien newspaper in an interview published
on March 26 that there would be no big-bang exit from the euro
if she won power.
She said that she would hold a referendum on Europe after
six months of negotiations with the rest of the European Union
on a range of issues including leaving the border-free Schengen
agreement and transforming the EU into a looser cooperative of
Talks on the euro currency would come at the end of those
negotiations, she said.
"Within the negotiation calendar I want to pursue ... the
euro would be the last step because I want to wait for the
outcome of elections in Germany in the fall (autumn) before
renegotiating it," she told the newspaper.
If France were to revert to using its own currency, the cost
would be huge, in large part because of French banks' debts
abroad, French economics think-tank CEPII said in a study on
It calculated that French banks would see their debts to
German creditors alone surge by 21.5 billion euros ($22.95
billion) in such a scenario.
($1 = 0.9367 euros)
(Additional reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Andrew