Europe

Macron hunts for France's rural vote

  • French centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a campaign rally in Chatellerault, central France, Friday, April 28, 2017. Macron faces far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen off in a May 7 runoff election. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

    French centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a campaign rally in Chatellerault, central France, Friday, April 28, 2017. Macron faces far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen off in a May 7 runoff election. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)  (The Associated Press)

  • French centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a campaign rally in Chatellerault, central France, Friday, April 28, 2017. Macron faces far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen off in a May 7 runoff election. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

    French centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a campaign rally in Chatellerault, central France, Friday, April 28, 2017. Macron faces far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen off in a May 7 runoff election. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)  (The Associated Press)

  • French centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron visits a market in Poitiers, central France, Saturday, April 29 , 2017. Macron faces far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen in a May 7 runoff election. (AP Photo/Angela Charlton)

    French centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron visits a market in Poitiers, central France, Saturday, April 29 , 2017. Macron faces far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen in a May 7 runoff election. (AP Photo/Angela Charlton)  (The Associated Press)

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron is hunting for votes in rural areas of France where his far-right opponent, Marine Le Pen, has made inroads among people who feel left behind, with difficult access to public services, mobile phone connections and other modern conveniences.

In a radio interview on Saturday, the centrist Macron said that if elected, his government would intervene directly if mobile operators fail within 18 months to install high-speed fiber optic and phone networks "everywhere."

"I will give them 18 months to finish these deployments, be it fiber optic or 3G/4G," he said. "If at the end of these 18 months, they have not fulfilled their responsibility, the state will substitute itself in their place to do this, within the framework of the investment plan I've decided."