Campaign is being dominated by power struggle between far right and presidents centrist agenda
In a restaurant in northern Paris with European flags pinned to the walls, the former French Europe minister Nathalie Loiseau warned female voters that the rise of the far right threatened their fundamental rights.
Marine Le Pen just met an Estonian interior minister who believes that childless women over 27 are a waste for society, she said. Gasps of horror spread through the crowd. Abortion rights, she warned, could not yet be taken for granted in Europe: Abortion is banned in Malta and restricted in Poland and the UK. More gasps came in response to Northern Irelands laws.
The French European election campaign has been defined by the president, Emmanuel Macron, as an existential fight between pro-European progressives and Eurosceptic, far-right nationalists. But womens rights are the centrists latest battleground in a bid to persuade millions of abstainers to vote.
Women vote less than men in European elections, warned Loiseau, who is leading Macrons European campaign. The stakes had never been higher, she insisted.
Frances European election battle is being dominated by the domestic power struggle between Macrons centrist camp and Le Pens far-right National Rally party. Never has a European election campaign in the country been such a personality contest between former presidential rivals. Both are vying for first place in the polls on about 22%, with the far right recently inching ahead. But abstention could be as high as 60% and a significant part of the electorate remains undecided.