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EU, health: How have Macron and Le Pen’s policies changed since 2017?

We look through their programmes from five years ago and today to spot the differences

We look at how the priorities of the two second-round presidential candidates have changed since they first faced off in 2017 Pic: RVillalon / Shutterstock

With days to go before Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen face each other in the second round of the presidential election on Sunday (April 24), we look at how both candidates have changed their campaigns since 2017.

In 2017 Mr Macron was elected with more than 65% of the vote, the consequence of the “faire barrage à l'extrême-droite” (block the extreme right) policy from left-wing and right-wing candidates and the catastrophic TV debate from Ms Le Pen. 

However, the political landscape is different now.

Read more: Macron and Le Pen’s election rematch: A lot has changed since 2017

The Connexion looks at how Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen’s programmes have changed over the last five years. Results of Mr Macron’s program in 2017 were provided by Luiprésident, a fact-checking website from Ecole de journalisme de Lille’s students (ESJ Lille) analysing every of Mr Macron’s campaign programs.

Read more: Macron - Le Pen: What do they each pledge to change if elected?

IMMIGRATION AND FOREIGNERS

Emmanuel Macron in 2017

  • Establish local programmes for integration and French-language learning.  (Achieved)
  • Introduce new measures to attract foreign talent. (Partially achieved)
  • Accelerate the procedure for examining asylum (reduced to eight weeks). (Partially achieved)
  • Bolster law enforcement at Europe’s borders. (Achieved; 5,000 European border guards hired)

Emmanuel Macron in 2022 

  • Wants to restrict the conditions of access to residence permits, including making four-year-long titres de séjour conditional on “a French language test and an honest approach to work insertion.” 
  • Make visa granting reciprocal with the country of origin. 
  • Automatic expulsion for refused asylum applications. 

Marine Le Pen in 2017

  • Increase border inspections. 
  • Withdrawal from the Schengen agreement.
  • Limit the number of legal admissions to 10,000 per year. 
  • Tough rules for family reunification. 
  • She wanted to abolish the ‘droit du sol’, which currently means that children born in France to foreign parents automatically become French when they reach age 18.
  • Ban dual-citizenship for non-Europeans and the naturalisation of undocumented immigrants.

Marine Le Pen in 2022: 

  • Wants to dramatically reduce immigrations and “fight Islamicism”, and potentially make wearing all Islamic head coverings (such as the hijab) illegal in public. 
  • Wants to abolish the ‘droit du sol’ and tighten the rules on acquiring nationality by naturalisation. 
  • Wants to end easier access to French citizenship through marriage, and expel foreign individuals who have not worked in France for more than a year. 

Read more: What is Le Pen’s ‘French nationals first’ policy and is it legal?

ENERGY AND NUCLEAR

Emmanuel Macron in 2017: 

  • Reduce French dependence on nuclear power to 50 percent (from 75%) by 2025. (Not achieved)
  • Tax diesel at the same level as gas.
  • Make 50 percent of canteen food organic within five years. (Not achieved)
  • Launch a nationwide plan for renovating public buildings to cut down on energy use.
    (Achieved. Four billion euros invested)
  • Close Fessenhiem nuclear plant. (Partially achieved)

Emmanuel Macron in 2022: 

  • Wants to increase nuclear power with the construction of six new generation nuclear plants, but also develop renewable energy sources in parallel, especially offshore wind farms (50 by 2050).
  • Increase solar power production tenfold. 
  • Make France a renewable energy centre. 
  • Invest in green hydrogen. 
  • Plant 140 million trees. 

Marine Le Pen in 2017: 

  • Keep Electricité de France (EDF) as a state-owned company. 
  • Oppose Fessenhiem nuclear plant’s closure. 
  • Planned on a nationwide policy to modernise and increase security in nuclear plants. 
  • Wanted to “massively develop renewable energies.”

Marine Le Pen in 2022: 

  • Wants to reduce VAT on energy products from 20% to 5.5%. 
  • Wants to stop investment in wind farm projects, promising savings of €5 billion. 
  • Wants to “revive” nuclear power with six new EPR water reactors, and reopen the old station Fessenheim. 
  • Invest in hydrogen and hydroelectric power. 

SPENDING POWER

Emmanuel Macron in 2017: 

  • Wants to increase the “prime d’activité” from €132 to €222 for salaries up to 130% of the SMIC minimum wage. (Achieved)
  • Wants to reduce employee contributions to unemployment and sickness benefits. (Achieved)
  • Wants to make overtime pay exempt from social security contributions. (Achieved) 

Emmanuel Macron in 2022: 

  • Wants to make the revenu de solidarité active RSA benefit conditional on the number of hours worked. 
  • Wants to stop the TV licence fee (redevance télé in French), and introduce food cheques for people who need them. 
  • Wants to make it mandatory for any company issuing bonuses to set up a profit-sharing scheme. 
  • Wants to reduce social security contributions for the self-employed, equalling an income increase of around €550 per month for someone earning the equivalent of the minimum wage. 

Read more: End of TV licence fee, food cheques: Macron's promises if re-elected 

Marine Le Pen in 2017: 

  • Wanted to introduce a spending power bonus of €80 for revenues up to €1,500. 
  • Promised €20billion euros in tax cuts. 

Marine Le Pen in 2022: 

  • Wants to “improve spending power” (€150 to €200 per household) for nationals and restrict benefits to citizens only, and enable companies to increase wages by 10%. 
  • Privatise public media and remove the licence fee.
  • Wants to reduce the VAT from 20% to 5.5% on energy products (fuel, oil, gas and electricity). 

HEALTH

Emmanuel Macron in 2017: 

  • “We have a great healthcare system but we do not have the best healthcare system in the world,” said then-candidate Emmanuel Macron. 
  • Wished to aim for 100% reimbursement for the cost of glasses, braces, and hearing aids by 2022. (Partially achieved)
  • Allow more pharmaceuticals to be sold per unit.

Emmanuel Macron in 2022: 

  • Wants to launch a major recruitment plan for nurses and care assistants. 
  • Wants to recruit 50,000 nursing assistants in elderly-care homes by 2027. 
  • Wants every child to have access to early detection of developmental problems (hyperactivity, dyslexia, obesity, etc.) and their own GP. 
  • Wants more assistants to help GPs, and for GPs to have closer links to hospitals.

Marine Le Pen in 2017: 

  • Wanted to “guarantee social security to every French person.” 
  • Wanted to raise pensions for disabled people, increase medical staff in hospitals and numerus clausus – the maximum number of positions available after the competitive first year of medical studies. 

Marine Le Pen in 2022: 

  • Wants to implement a €20 billion emergency plan for health. 
  • Wants to abolish Regional Health Agencies (Agences régionales de santé) and change how hospitals are managed. 
  • Create A&E units specifically for older people.

CULTURE

Emmanuel Macron in 2017:

  • Wants to open libraries on evenings and Sundays and offer a €500 culture pass for 18-year-olds. (Achieved.)
  • Proposed €200 million in investments to support French culture (Achieved)

Emmanuel Macron in 2022:

  • Wants to end the TV licence fee. 
  • Wants to “extend the Pass Culture” but did not specify how much. 
  • Wants to explore “European metavers”, a technology opening up virtual reality experiences.

Marine Le Pen in 2017:

  • Adopted a French-first oriented policy by proposing to “preserve, maintain and highlight national heritage”, 
  • End the sale of heritage properties to “foreign powers”, 
  • Repeal the Hadopi law on internet copyright infringement and develop more francophone media outside France. 

Read more: What is Le Pen’s ‘French nationals first’ policy and is it legal?

Marine Le Pen in 2022:

  • End the TV licence fee and privatise state-owned TV and radio. 
  • Wants to implement a six-month public and voluntary service in national heritage crafts and art works in an effort to slow their “decline.”

EUROPE AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Emmanuel Macron in 2017:

  • Proposed to create a European fund and the European Security Council. 
  • Favoured a military intervention in Syria backed up by the United Nations (Achieved) 
  • Wanted to maintain sanctions on Russia following the annexation of Crimea. (Achieved)

Emmanuel Macron in 2022:

  • Reinforce Europe and “ensure its strategic autonomy” by increasing weaponry. 
  • Reform the Schengen area in a bill he will bring forward to the European interior ministry and provide an intergovernmental body to manage Frontex.

Marine Le Pen in 2017:

  • Within the European Union, she wanted to negotiate every European treaty within six months and proposed a national referendum to decide the fate of France within the alliance. 
  • Campaigned on leaving both the eurozone and the Schengen area. 
  • Said she would strengthen ties with Moscow and withdraw from NATO’s integrated command.

Marine Le Pen in 2022:

  • Backed down on her desire to leave the European Union, the eurozone and the Schengen area. 
  • However, she said she wanted French laws to take precedence over European laws to “put order” into what she called a “illegal supranational structure.”
  • Wants to end free circulation of non-European aliens and increase identity controls on train stations and airports.
  • Ms Le Pen’s u-turn on many European campaign programs from 2017 is one of the sources of the fiercest attacks from opponents, some of which have expressed concerns about a ‘shadow Frexit’ hiding behind her softened stances on the European Union, the eurozone and the Schengen area.

Read more: Le Pen praises Brexit; Macron and allies say she is hiding Frexit plan

RETIREMENT

Emmanuel Macron in 2017:

  • Create a universal retirement scheme. 
  • Raise the minimum pension to above €900. (Did not modify the amount)

Emmanuel Macron in 2022:

  • Wants to push the retirement age up from 62 to 65 – although he has said he would be prepared to potentially move it to 64 – and make retirement income at least €1,100 per month. 

Read more: Retirement at 65 (not 62) and €1,100 monthly pension: Macron’s plans

Marine Le Pen in 2017:

  • Lower the retirement age to 60. 
  • Increase the minimum pension, but limit it to French people or foreigners who have had residency in France for a minimum of 20 years. 

Marine Le Pen in 2022:

  • Wants to increase the minimum pension amount to €1,000 and pledges that there will be no increase of retirement age. 
  • Wants to create a pension scheme that allows those who started working before the age of 20 to leave with 40 years of service at the age of 60. 
  • Wants to re-introduce the fiscal half portion for widows.

EDUCATION

Emmanuel Macron in 2017: 

  • Limit class sizes to 12 students in the first and second year of elementary school. (Achieved)
  • Create catch-up courses at the end of the year and personalised assessments at the beginning of the year for struggling students. (Partially achieved)
  • Invest 15 billion euros over five years to overhaul state-run professional training.

Emmanuel Macron in 2022: 

  • Wants to improve teacher training, increase their pay and ask them to work more hours. 
  • Make major reforms in professional lycées
  • Extend the “Pass culture” to improve access to cultural sites.

Marine Le Pen in 2017:

  • Increase teachers by 3%. 
  • Stop schools from teaching the languages of France’s main immigrant communities.  
  • End courses taught entirely in foreign languages. 
  • Start apprenticeship by 14 when applicable. 

Marine Le Pen in 2022: 

  • Wants to re-evaluate teachers’ salary grid.
  • Would introduce uniforms in primary and secondary schools. 
  • Wants to recruit more teachers in primary schools. 

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