French business leaders urged to 'stick their neck out' against far right

French business leaders have been pitched into fresh uncertainty by snap elections called by President Emmanuel Macron that risk strengthening the far right.

Federations are treading lightly with their public comments, aware that they could be sitting across the table from National Rally (RN) ministers if the party scores a major breakthrough in the June 30 and July 7 ballots.

Local business group U2P would "respect the people's choice, but the RN has to say more precisely what it proposes on questions with a tax, social and economic effect on small firms," its chief Michel Picon told AFP.

At the last presidential election in 2022, the outfit had warned that RN chief Marine Le Pen's manifesto promises "would have bad consequences for business," he recalled.

At stake are issues such as returning to an official retirement age of 60 – raised to 64 in a wildly unpopular Macron reform last year – and a still harsher crackdown on immigration.

"What does this mean for people working for us today?" Picon asked.

"We're business players who don't get involved in politics," said Thierry Cotillard, head of the Mousquetaires/Intermarche supermarket chain.

But "whoever the politicians are, we will fiercely defend our positions," he warned.

'Stick your neck out'

Centrist Macron's time in office has been marked by reforms aimed at making life easier for businesses and high-profile courting of foreign investment.


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