PARIS (Reuters) - A majority of the French favor protectionist measures and see globalization as bad for jobs, a poll showed, suggesting support for a trend in France’s presidential campaign that has pushed President Nicolas Sarkozy to advocate a “Buy European” policy.
The survey by pollster IFOP and due to be published on Thursday in La Croix daily showed that eight out of 10 French people saw globalization as hurting employment, while nearly seven in 10 said it helped to increase public deficits.
Of the 1,052 people questioned by IFOP between April 6 and 10, only 22 percent saw globalization as a “good thing” for their country, while seven in 10 said France should increase taxes on products imported from emerging countries.
Sixty-two percent said France should restore customs duties at its borders unilaterally if the European Union failed to raise levies on foreign goods.
Hostility for globalization has taken centre-stage in France’s election campaign, with far-right chief Marine Le Pen and hard leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon gathering some 30 percent of vote intentions in the first of two election rounds on April 22.
Le Pen advocates pulling France out of the euro zone and toughening the country’s borders, while Melenchon has promised to reassert French sovereignty in international bodies such as the European Union and the NATO defense alliance.
Sarkozy - who polls show leading in the first round over Socialist candidate Francois Hollande but losing to him in a May 6 runoff - has also toughened his attitude toward trade, notably with emerging nations such as China and India.
In a newspaper interview last week, Sarkozy warned that he was serious about seeking more trade protectionism in Europe and tighter external border controls, threatening to resurrect former president Charles de Gaulle’s “empty chair” approach to European negotiations.
De Gaulle triggered a crisis in the nascent European Economic Community in 1965 when he withdrew France’s representative during a disagreement over agricultural funding.
Among his campaign proposals are halving the number of foreigners entering France legally each year, toughening conditions for access to benefits and pushing for a “Buy European” law to be enacted within a year of his election.
Targeting emerging nations, he has threatened to impose unilateral trade restrictions on public procurement for any country that does not reciprocate Europe’s trade policy by opening its procurement market to foreign investors.
Reporting By Nicholas Vinocur