Macron's lead narrows in French presidential election: polls

21 Avril, 2017, 20:41 | Author: Claudine Rigal
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"Madam Le Pen, sorry to tell you, but you are using lies we hear for 40 years and we were hearing in your father's mouth", Macron retorted, a reference to the National Front's founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who repeatedly has been convicted of crimes based on anti-Semitism and racism.

France's presidential candidates have squared off in a televised debate ahead of elections set to take place later this month.

The three-hour debate involves all 11 candidates, some of whom draw one percent or less of support in polls, and a majority of which are against the EU.

Two polls yesterday showed far-right leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron neck-and-neck in the race, with each predicted to receive about 25 per cent of the vote in the April 23 first round.

Scandal surrounding Fillon, the main centre-right candidate, and a Socialist party in disarray, have been gifts to his campaign.Le Pen, a far more established fixture on the political scene, is expected by many to lead in the first round before being beaten by Macron in the May runoff. Middle form left: Jean-Luc Melelchon, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, Nathalie Arthaud, Philippe Poutou.

"The difference between you and me is that I want the French people to decide", she said, explaining that she would first negotiate new terms for France and the European Union before organising a referendum.

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"With Fillon, the more you look the more corruption and cheating you find", he said.

He has established a reputation as an often aggressive anti-establishment figure who like Le Pen scorns globalisation and the political elite, while firmly rejecting her hardline rhetoric on immigration and Islam.

The debate heated up when the candidates discussed the "moralization" of French politics. "If they don't do so and if I am elected president, there will be a parliamentary commission of inquiry", Fillon said.

Today, by many accounts, despite expectations that the globalist Macron will ultimately prevail in the second round of voting, there are signs that Le Pen's draw among French voters is spreading. "For a simple reason that the share of voters who are ready to vote for anyone in the second round, as long as it is to beat Le Pen, is more than one out of two voters", he said.

In a separate action involving the National Front, French judicial police in February questioned her bodyguard and chief of staff in relation to a probe into alleged misuse of European Union funds to pat parliamentary assistants.

The French economy has not recovered since the economic crisis of 2008, and Hollande's policy of imposing high tax rates has caused a capital flight to Britain, Belgium, and other low-tax countries rather than bringing additional revenue to France.

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