French far-right presidency candidate Marine Le Pen has demanded that supermarkets be banned from all cities and towns smaller than 30.000 inhabitants. "Large scale distribution has destroyed one million jobs over the last twenty years", she claims. The sector is not too pleased with her "populist election rhetorics".
Le Pen, who only just made it to the presidential race, targets the supermarkets as a scapegoat in order to secure shopkeepers' votes. This audience, traditionally right-wing, has been deserting current president Sarkozy as they felt abandoned by his government. Only 37% of them would still support the centre-right president - compared to already 18% for Le Pen.
The Front National candidate found inspiration in Italy, where smaller retailers united into Confcomercio in 1970 and forced the government into issuing quota to reduce the number of supermarkets in relation to the population. She claims that these quota achieved 'excellent results' in terms of employment.
"We created 750.000 jobs"
The French distribution federation FCD was not amused and accused the far-right politician of being a demagogue. "Large scale distribution, with its different formats (hypermarkets, supermarkets, convenience stores) give the consumers what they need throughout the country. Moreover, it has created 750.000 jobs and still recruits 100.000 people each year - mostly young people without (higher) education.”