France is stuck in a major rut.
Europe’s third biggest economy has suffered years of anemic growth, high unemployment and budget deficits, while neighbors such as Germany and the U.K. have enjoyed a stronger recovery from the global financial crisis.
The country’s economic malaise is a major issue in presidential elections scheduled for Sunday.
The contest has become a four-way race between candidates from across the political spectrum. Two of the front runners — far right politician Marine Le Pen and socialist Jean-Luc Melenchon — have radical ideas on how to improve the economy.
Both candidates oppose free trade agreements and are highly critical of the euro.
“The lackluster growth and high unemployment of recent years are fertile ground for the populist and eurosceptic Marine Le Pen,” said Jessica Hinds, European economist at Capital Economics.
The two candidates with the biggest share of Sunday’s vote will advance to a runoff scheduled for May 7. But will they have the right prescription to cure France?
After years of slow growth, the country’s GDP figures are finally turning higher. But they remain at very low levels.
The French economy expanded by 1.2% in 2016, according to the International Monetary Fund. The two larger economies in Europe — Germany and the U.K. — posted growth of 1.8% over the same period.