PARIS (REUTERS) - French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen sought on Sunday (March 26) to reassure voters concerned over her plans to withdraw the country from the euro zone, saying it "wouldn't be chaos" and she would seek "well-prepared" talks with other European Union countries.
Opinion polls show the anti-EU, anti-immigrant National Front (FN) leader qualifying for the April 23 first round of the presidential election but losing the May 7 run-off to centrist Emmanuel Macron.
Leaving the euro is one of the FN's stadard-bearing policies, both a mark of its anti-establishment stance that attracts voters angry with globalisation, and a likely obstacle to its quest for power in a country where a majority oppose a return to the franc.
"The euro triggered a very serious increase in prices and a very steep drop in purchasing power," Ms Le Pen said in an interview published in Le Parisien newspaper on Sunday.
"It is also a serious hindrance to job creation because it triggered a loss in competitiveness for the French economy."
However, some 72 per cent of French voters oppose a return to the franc, an Ifop poll published in Le Figaro newspaper showed.
With previous opinion polls also showing such opposition, Ms Le Pen has said for months that if elected she would not abruptly withdraw from the euro but instead hold a referendum after six months of negotiation with the rest of the EU on a range of issues including leaving the border-free Schengen agreement and reducing the EU to a loose cooperative of nations.
She specified in the Le Parisien interview that talks on the euro would come at the end of those negotiations, after Germany's general election in September.
"It must be done in a rational, well-prepared way," she told Le Parisien, "I don't want chaos. Within the negotiation calendar I want to carry out ... the euro would be the last step because I want to wait for the outcome of elections in Germany in the fall before renegotiating it."
The Ifop poll showed that, unlike voters overall, a majority of FN voters back a euro exit.