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Patrice Sinoquet, 54, Whirlpool factory worker in Amiens. One of 300 people threatened with being laid off when Whirlpool moves production to Poland in 2018. "Since 2000 we workers have been thrown out like Kleenex," he says, sitting in the reception area of the factory. "And since 2008 there have been no jobs. Here in France there is no work, no enterprises."
Patrice Sinoquet, 54, Whirlpool factory worker in Amiens. One of 300 people threatened with being laid off when Whirlpool moves production to Poland in 2018. "Since 2000 we workers have been thrown out like Kleenex," he says, sitting in the reception area of the factory. "And since 2008 there have been no jobs. Here in France there is no work, no enterprises."Christopher Morris—VII for TIME
Patrice Sinoquet, 54, Whirlpool factory worker in Amiens. One of 300 people threatened with being laid off when Whirlpool moves production to Poland in 2018. "Since 2000 we workers have been thrown out like Kleenex," he says, sitting in the reception area of the factory. "And since 2008 there have been no jobs. Here in France there is no work, no enterprises."
Cécile Delpirou, 52, Whirlpool field test coordinator and union representative for white-collar workers in the factory in Amiens. One of 300 people threatened with being laid off when Whirlpool moves production to Poland in 2018. "Honestly I don't know who to vote for. All the candidates are discredited. Marine Le Pen has never had power, and leaving the EU will change nothing. I find it very dangerous to pit one group against the other."
Éric Richermoz, 24, business-school graduate in Amiens. National Front activist and rising star in the Somme area of Northern France, running for parliament in elections in June. "The Socialists and the Republicans, they don’t have many people in the field. The National Front is the only party that brings hope in these elections."
Jean-Luc Mbarga, in Abbeville. Computer technician, immigrated to France from Cameroon in 2015. "I am black, so people are always a little shocked that I joined the National Front. But after that they ask questions. We all see immigrants coming by sea, and the government gives them shelter. After that there is Islamization and radicalization."
Jean-Pierre Gourdet, 45, Whirlpool worker in Amiens. Third generation in his family to work in the factory. One of 300 people threatened with being laid off when Whirlpool moves production to Poland in 2018. "My grandfather was a Communist. Me, I will vote for Le Pen. She says 'France first, others afterwards.'"
Nicolas Pinto, 36, (left) and his brother David Pinto, 40 (right) in Saint-Ouen village, Somme next to Flixecourt, both looking for work. Nicolas: "The politicians all make empty promises. I would vote for Hollande again, he did the job. But never Le Pen. Our father was from Portugal, and she is anti-immigration. So for him I would not vote for her." David: "We have to go 20 kilometers to find work. It is the fault of the EU. Everything is delocalized."
Eddy Demeulenaere, 41, in Amiens. Works in a plastics factory that supplies Whirlpool. It is threatened with closure next year after Whirlpool moves production to Poland. "If the factory closes there are no other jobs. We will do nothing, because in France there is nothing to do."
Jean-Paul Grumetz, a local historian-guide in Flixecourt, once a thriving industrial town. "There were 17 factories around here. People went into the factory young, and came out old. Now there is very very high unemployment. This is our Detroit."
Linda Konan-Lebat, 42, owns an African knick-knacks store in Abbeville. Immigrated from Ivory Coast in 2002. "I joined the National Front two years ago because Marine Le Pen has passion in her fight. The government has many problems. We want a change, and that change is with Marine."
Michael Vanwash, 59, owner of Saint Pierre autoshop in Amiens in northern France. "The government is doing the maximum for refugees and we people who are French are grinding it out and we get nothing. That is why I like the National Front. There are many people who think like me but are embarrassed to say it."
Stéphanie Tricotet, 37, and her son Donovan, 12, from Ham in northern France, supporters of Marine Le Pen's election campaign. "The main issue for us is immigration," she says. "The immigrants get all these things that we don't get, housing and help."
Alain Dupuis, 64, former Goodyear worker in Amiens, until it closed in 2014 after a violent battle between activists and police. Now the mayor of the tiny village of Bourdon, he is standing in front of the now-deserted Goodyear plant. "I am still thinking who to vote for. I have voted Socialist since 1981, but I've very disappointed with the left. More and more people in my village support Marine Le Pen. I think the National Front is still deeply racist."
Jean-Pierre Lepreux, local National Front delegate in Ham in northern France. He turned from supporting the Socialist Party to backing Marine Le Pen. "Many people are leaving the Socialist Party for the National Front. I believe in leaving the EU like our British friends did. Our producers are being damaged. Look, Whirlpool is leaving for Poland because in France workers cost too much money."
Patrice Sinoquet, 54, Whirlpool factory worker in Amiens. One of 300 people threatened with being laid off when Whirlpoo
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Christopher Morris—VII for TIME
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Inside France's Rust Belt

Mar 16, 2017

France's version of the Rust Belt is just two hours north of majestic Paris, but when TIME photographer Christopher Morris and I traveled around the area it felt, in parts, like another country. Here, amid the shuttered factories and for-rent signs on the storefronts, regular folk - like the ones in these photographs - told us their leaders had abandoned them in the rush towards globalization and a more powerful E.U. I n this week's magazine we describe "The Power of Le Pen."

For French right-wing politician Marine Le Pen, their exasperation is fertile terrain for her anti-immigrant, France-First presidential campaign. We found among Le Pen's followers longtime left-wing voters, business people, union activists, and even African immigrants. After years of stunted dreams and economic prospects, many told us they had given up waiting for mainstream politicians to bring relief. "This is our Detroit," explained one local historian, who sees similarities between this voter anger and the frustration that brought Donald Trump to power.

Le Pen hopes for a Trump-like shock victory in the two-round presidential elections, on April 23 and May 7. Polls suggest a wave of opposition from left- and right-wing voters will defeat her in the second round; then again, polls suggested Trump would lose, and that Britain would reject the Brexit vote. And at 49, Le Pen is still relatively young, and could inch her way slowly towards the Elysée Palace in the years ahead. If she does, she'll have some of the people in these photos to thank.

Michelle Molloy, who edited this photo essay, is a senior international photo editor at TIME.

Christopher Morris, an award winning TIME contract photographer since 1990, is a founding member of the VII photo agency. He is the author of the books My America and Americans.

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