French PM vows action to stem rise of far right

The French Prime Minister has vowed to take urgent action to cut unemployment, acknowledging measures are needed to stem the rise of the far-right National Front.

French PM vows action to stem rise of far right
Photo: AFP

The record performance of the far-right National Front in the regional elections seem to have jolted the French government into action, with the Prime Minister vowing to take on the economic “state of emergency”.

French PM Manuel Valls has vowed to draw up a series of measures to combat record unemployment and in doing so stem the rising tide of the National Front.

Despite the National Front being beaten in the second round of the regional elections Valls said it wasn’t a moment for triumphalism.

Valls was one of the many politicians to vow to learn lessons from the performance of Marine Le Pen’s party and also promised to listen to the French people.

But he accepted that the government must take urgent measures to get unemployment down and young people – so many of whom voted for the far right – back into work.

Finding work for the jobless would be a “priority of priorities”.

Although the PM did not announce any concrete measures, he said the government would be concentrating on the “essential” – creating jobs and apprenticeships and offering training to those without qualifications.

Valls said the measures would be announced in January.

“We have to act quickly,” he said.

There is much speculation about what the Prime Minister could actually do that would have any positive impact in such a short space of time.

The ideas mentioned surround cutting payroll charges for smaller companies when they recruit new workers.

Another measure that could return to the table is to limit the amount of compensation that can be paid out to workers who are dismissed.

This idea was put forward as part of a package of reforms earlier this year, but rejected by the Constitutional Council.

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Le Pen’s far-right National Rally left high and dry by €2 million funding cut

France's far-right National Rally said on Sunday that its future was in doubt after judges withheld €2 million in public subsidies over allegations the party illegally took millions in European Parliament funding.

Le Pen's far-right National Rally left high and dry by €2 million funding cut
Le Pen's National Rally was formerly known as the National Front. Photo: AFP

Party leader Marine Le Pen told AFP that without the money her party, formerly known as the National Front, would no longer be able to operate and “will be dead by the end of August”.

She and other party members are accused of using funds earmarked for parliamentary assistants to pay for France-based staff over several years starting in 2009.

Investigating judges ordered the seizure of the funds, nearly half the total 4.5 million euros ($5.3 million) allocated for the party this year, on June 28, a source close the inquiry said.

Such subsidies are common in European countries, which see them as a way of ensuring a level playing field while limiting the risks of political corruption or illegal funding.

But despite the public funds, Le Pen's party has had a string of financial setbacks.

In 2014 the party had to take a nine million euro loan from a Russian bank as it struggled to secure financing in France, and several banks including Societe Generale and HSBC refused to open accounts for the party last year.

The European Parliament is demanding seven million euros in assistant subsidies it believes was fraudulently paid by Le Pen and other National Rally lawmakers, including her father and party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Ten people have been charged in the inquiry so far, including Marine Le Pen.