French elections: 5 things you didn't know about Valérie Pécresse

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French elections: 5 things you didn't know about Valérie Pécresse
French conservative party Les Republicains (LR) presidential candidate Valerie Pecresse delivers a speech during a meeting with French National Police Union Alliance in Paris, on February 2 2022. (Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP)

She's the first female presidential candidate for the French centre-right Les Républicains party and has described herself as 'one third Margaret Thatcher and two thirds Angela Merkel', but here are some thing you might not know about Valérie Pécresse. 


1 She is married with three children - Her husband Jérome says that if she is elected he will take care of 'the children and the cooking', as he did when she was the budget minister under Nicolas Sarkozy.

Their kids are now 26, 24 and 18 though, so we're not sure exactly how much childcare they still require. 

He also works, he's part of the leadership team of General Electric in France.


2 She is currently head of the greater Paris region of Île de France -  Here she has made herself popular with commuters first by giving full refunds of travel passes during the mass transport strikes of 2019/20 and then by rolling out a fare cap of €5 for any single journey within the region (which covers 12,000 km sq). 


3 Certain sections of the French press dub her 'Macron-en-jupe' (Macron in a skirt) - This slightly bizarre image is intended to refer to the fact that her policies on Europe and the economy are in many ways similar to the centrist Macron.

Socially, however, she is a lot more conservative and was a leading opponent of the equal marriage bill which gave same-sex couples the right to marry in 2013. She has, however, said that now the legislation is passed she would not seek to overturn it. 

Incidentally, she doesn't often wear skirts and is much more likely to be photographed in well-tailored trousers and a smart jacket.

4 She's a linguist - She speaks fluent English, Japanese and also Russian, thanks to time spent at what she described as 'communist youth camps' in her teens in what was then the USSR.  

5 And she wants you to be one too - She takes a hard line on immigration and has previously suggested a cap on visas issues to arrivals from outside the EU, and also making renewing residency permits conditional on 'mastery of the French language'.


She has so far not specified what language level would be required or how long foreigners in France will be given to get their language skills up to scratch. 



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