March 20, 2017 / 1:12 PM / 8 months ago

French candidates can agree that economy is running behind

LONDON (Reuters) - When France’s presidential candidates get together for a formal debate later on Monday, they will at least have one thing to agree on -- the country’s economy is lagging others that have already had recent votes.

A combination picture shows candidates for the French 2017 presidential election, 1st row L-R : Nathalie Arthaud, France's extreme-left Lutte Ouvriere political party (LO) leader, Francois Asselineau, UPR candidate, Jacques Cheminade, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, Debout La France group candidate, Francois Fillon, the Republicans political party candidate, 2nd row L-R : Benoit Hamon, French Socialist party candidate, Jean Lassalle, Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader, Emmanuel Macron, head of the political movement En Marche ! (or Onwards !), Jean-Luc Melenchon, candidate of the French far-left Parti de Gauche, Philippe Poutou, Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) presidential candidate, after the official announcement in Paris, France, March 18, 2017. REUTERS/Staff

As the following graphic -- bit.ly/2mHgixb -- shows, French unemployment, still over 10 percent, is far higher than in the United States, Britain and the Netherlands.

France also lags well behind in economic growth. Taking the beginning of 2007 as a base, its economy has expanded only 6.3 percent in 10 years. By contrast, the Netherlands has grown more than 7.5 percent, Britain more than 11 percent and the United States over 14 percent.

Whether this helps National Front leader Marine Le Pen attract angry voters, or whether they prefer the reforms offered by conservative Francois Fillon or centrist Emmanuel Macron remains to be seen.

Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union were both supposed to be influenced by voters who felt left out of the economic recovery.

By comparison, France hasn’t had one.

Editing by Catherine Evans

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