With just over a week to go until the second round of the French presidential election, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen was invited to discuss the key themes of her campaign during a national television interview on TF1 on Tuesday evening. Le Pen is seeking to woo the large contingent of left-leaning voters uncertain of where to turn for the run-off on 24 April.
"I would like to see a unified national government, but not one that would undermine the coherence of my programme. I would like to see a proportional vote system and I would open a discussion on this topic in the parliament, which has for too long lost its power," she told TFI viewers.
Since coming in second with 23.15 percent of the votes after Sunday's first round behind Emmanuel Macron who polled at 27.85 percent, Le Pen is seeking to appeal to the 21.95 percent of voters who supported third placed far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
Whether it be the introduction of a citizens' referendum initiative, retirement at 60, price capping or proportional votes, Le Pen has stressed that many of her ideas are shared by Mélenchon's France Unbowed party.
"I'm attached to the social protection system," she insisted.
"I have the most socially protective project. Emmanuel Macron has been leading with very tough politics, extremely destructive for modest households. I want to preserve our social system".
Asked about the proposed citizens' referendum (RIC) she "explained: "500,000 voters could submit a proposal for a bill or request to change an existing law. This would be our way of repairing the democracy damaged by Macron".
Le Pen insisted that she is not trying to remove France from the European Union, but she reiterated her desire to reestablish clear borders with national control.
She also said it was important to hold a "referendum on immigration" and "constitutionalise the rights of foreigners". When asked about her desire to establish rules based on "national preference", she confirmed that she would like to see some forms of social aid reserved for French nationals, such as family aid.
- What might a Le Pen presidency mean for the future of the European Union?
- The policies: what the second-round candidates, Le Pen and Macron, stand for
"The opening up of our social system to everyone has put it in danger".
"I would save money when it comes to immigration," she pointed out, suggesting that the unsuccessful management of social security card fraud was costing the state millions of euros.
Contrary to Emmanuel Macron, Marine Le Pen does not want to push back the retirement age.
She has promised a "social justice" campaign that would leave the retirement age at 62 - and even lower it to 60 for people who began working before the age of 20.
"The best is to have a balanced system and to create employment. [We should be] getting young people into the market sooner," she said.
"To enter retirement when you are still in good health is a choice that society can make," she said.
Underlining a desire for "economic patriotism" whether it be for agriculture, or industry, she said it was time to stop unfair competition and fraudulent imports, going as far as to promise to create a ministry specifically for that purpose.
What kind of cars will people drive at the end of her mandate, if she is elected, asked the presenter Gilles Bouleau.
"That's if we are even able to drive," she responded referring to the rise in fuel prices.
"Making everything electric is a nice idea, but we don't have enough electricity. You need to produce it to be able to drive with it. I believe in a gentle transition. People don't have the means to change the cars they drive. We'll need to rely on a hybrid approach, hydrogen," she continued.
She was also in favour of setting up a strategy to "reindustrialise" the country in some sectors, and enabling them to become more autonomous.
"We've realised that faced with all these crises, like the one in Ukraine, we are entirely dependent, we've delocalised everything, and the with the first bit of sand in the machine, we grind to a halt. We need to regain our independence".
Moving on to the issue of security, Le Pen said it is necessary to reinforce the police force, promising a further 10,000 officers in the field if elected.
She also promised that police would benefit from the "presumption of innocence for legitimate defence" and the number of judges would be doubled.
She said foreign criminals would be sent back to their countries of origin and her government would look to applying short prison terms to improve efficacy.
Le Pen is to give an interview to Les 4 Vérités on France 2 Thursday morning, while Macron is due to be interviewed with TF1 on Wednesday evening.