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PARIS, March 28 (Reuters) - French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen sought on Tuesday to reassure business leaders worried about her plans to dump the euro, saying that new French francs “probably” would not drop in value.
Opinion polls see the National Front coming out on top in the first round of France’s presidential election on April 23 but going on to lose in a May 7 runoff against independent centrist Emmanuel Macron, a former economy minister.
Le Pen, who wants to hold a referendum on France’s use of the euro, says the currency is a problem because of differences in competitiveness with Germany.
“Bringing back national currencies would allow each country to re-establish their real value and that is what would happen. Would that lead to a devaluation of the new franc? Probably not,” she said.
She added however that new German marks would surge in value because the euro was too weak for the German economy while being too strong for the French economy.
“My election is an opportunity, there is no reason to be afraid,” she told the gathering of business leaders meeting separately with candidates.
“Stop making caricatures, that serves no purpose. Ogres don’t exist and neither does the big bad wolf,” she added, getting little applause from the audience.
While leaving the euro is at the heart of her programme, Le Pen says that she would refocus economic policy to assist small and mid-sized companies.
Such companies would be able to get loans on preferential terms with help from the Bank of France which would be given a new mandate focused on growth and jobs rather than solely inflation as is the case under European Central Bank.
Asked by a business leader how she would get banks to lend, she answered: ”Do you think that the state doesn’t have ways to make banks act? It’s quite the contrary.
“Believe me there are ways,” she added without elaborating apart from eluding to the new mandate for the Bank of France.
Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Michel Rose and Robin Pomeroy