PARIS: Europe’s third biggest economy has suffered years of anemic growth, high unemployment and budget deficits, while neighbors such as Germany and the U.K. have enjoyed a stronger recovery from the global financial crisis.
The country’s economic malaise is a major issue in presidential elections scheduled for Sunday.
The contest has become a four-way race between candidates from across the political spectrum. Two of the front runners — far right politician Marine Le Pen and socialist Jean-Luc Melenchon — have radical ideas on how to improve the economy.
Both candidates oppose free trade agreements and are highly critical of the euro.
“The lackluster growth and high unemployment of recent years are fertile ground for the populist and eurosceptic Marine Le Pen,” said Jessica Hinds, European economist at Capital Economics.
France is also struggling to bring down its unemployment rate, which stands at roughly 10%. That’s higher than the eurozone average and more than double the level of joblessness in Germany and Britain.