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All aboard! Riding the rails into France's far-right

Friday, March 31, 2017 - 01:46

The train from Paris into the French countryside is a voyage deep into the strongholds of far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, echoing populist support in Britain and the United States. Lucy Fielder reports.

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It's only a 90 minute train ride. But the trip from the heart of Paris into the French countryside bridges a political divide. Leaving big city voters behind, going deep into bastions of support for the National Front party and its anti-establishment, anti-immigrant presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen. In Paris, the vote for the National Front is low; few agreeing with her values. But you needn't leave the city far behind to find voters who feel they're outside politics. A Reuters journalist rode the rails to see how quickly the mood changes. Just 19 minutes outside Paris, in a less glitzy landscape, unemployment is over 50 percent higher than the national average. (SOUNDBITE) (French) 43-YEAR-OLD STAY-AT-MOTHER, ISABELLE CAUCHARD, SAYING: "Politicians never come here. We see them on TV, in Paris of course." The further you go, the greater the sense of marginalisation. Seventy-five kilometers out, in this picturesque village, Le Pen's party is pulling in more voters. Olivia Berthaut moved there for cheaper living. Now she's looking for work. (SOUNDBITE) (French) 33-YEAR-OLD JOBSEEKER, OLIVIA BERTHAUT, SAYING: "The French economy isn't working (...) Maybe at some point we should close the borders, we should have borders, because what has it really brought us?" Le Pen is still seen as a long shot, with the election less than a month away. Recent polls suggesting she'll survive a first round of votes against centrist Emmanuel Macron and conservative Francois Fillon. But then lose by a landslide in the runoff. If there's to be a shock victory, like Brexit or the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, it's in the hands of these people beyond the sprawl of the capital.

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All aboard! Riding the rails into France's far-right

Friday, March 31, 2017 - 01:46