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French elections: Marine Le Pen looking good

French elections: Marine Le Pen may get a boost

Sunday is first round election day in France. Barack Obama has called one candidate to offer sagely advice. Meanwhile, a shooting in Paris is being reported at time of writing. And on Wednesday the news that a machine gun, two hand guns and three kilos of TATP explosive were among the weapons found at a flat in Marseille raided by police after they foiled an imminent attack ahead of the French election, will surely help Marine Le Pen.

Source: AFP

French candidates face TV grilling with three days to go

With just three days to go until voting in the first round on Sunday, the French presidential election race has tightened dramatically

Candidates in the French presidential election have their final chance Thursday to speak to the nation in a series of televised interviews, in which scandal-hit conservative Francois Fillon has perhaps the most to prove.

All 11 candidates ranging from centrist Emmanuel Macron, who is narrowly leading the field, to minnows like Philippe Poutou, a Ford factory mechanic polling at 1.5 percent, will be interviewed on France 2 television for 15 minutes each.

With just days to go until the first round of voting on Sunday, the race — which could decide the future of the European Union — has tightened dramatically.

Opinion polls show Fillon and Macron, both pro-EU, locked in a tight four-way contest with far-right leader Marine Le Pen and hard-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon, both eurosceptics, making it the most unpredictable election in years.

Three surveys showed Macron having a slight edge over Le Pen with 23-25 percent against 22-23 percent.

Fillon and Melenchon are grouped together in a range of between 18 percent and 19.5 percent after a late spurt that has put them within striking distance of the frontrunners.

The top two will advance to a run-off vote on May 7.

Barack Obama spoke to 39-year-old Macron on Thursday about the “important upcoming presidential election in France”, a spokesman for the former US president said.

Macron’s camp said the candidate had “warmly thanked” Obama for his “friendly call”.

– Investor jitters –

The spectre of an EU-bashing final between Le Pen and Melenchon — one of six possible line-ups in the run-up — has caused nervousness among investors and thrust Europe to the top of the agenda.

Le Pen is proposing a referendum on France’s membership of the EU after negotiations with Brussels on returning most key powers to national capitals. She also wants to scrap the euro and bring back the French franc.

“If either Le Pen or Melenchon were to become the next president, there could be a big reaction in the markets,” analysts at Capital Economics said in a note to investors.

Former prime minister Fillon has tried to rebound from an expenses scandal by presenting himself as a safe, experienced pair of hands at a time of deep global uncertainty following Britain’s decision to leave the EU and Donald Trump’s rise to the White House.

The outcome of the French election is key to the future of Europe

The 63-year-old candidate for the conservative Republicans party was the early leader in a race that had been seen as a sure win for the right after five years of troubled Socialist rule.

But he lost ground after being charged over accusations that he put his wife Penelope on the public payroll for a fictitious job as his parliamentary assistant, for which she was paid nearly 700,000 euros ($750,000).

– ‘Poison of terrorism’ –

Fillon used the arrest of two men Tuesday in Marseille on suspicion of planning an attack on the election as an illustration of the dangers France faces — and the potential weaknesses of his opponents.

He aimed particular criticism at Macron, who spent two years as economy minister in the current Socialist government but has never held elected office.

“On the fight against radical Islam, as with everything else, Macron is vague,” Fillon told the right-leaning Le Figaro newspaper on Thursday.

Fillon confirmed that he had been warned by police last week that he had been earmarked as a “target” by jihadists.

Although prosecutors have refused to say if the two men arrested were aiming to attack a particular candidate, Fillon said of himself that it was “not out of the question that the candidate who has the most radical plan to take on Islamic terrorism be the target”.

He also returned to a message he has hammered home in recent weeks — that he alone among the leading candidates could secure a “strong” majority in the legislative elections that follow in June.

Le Pen has also sought to capitalise on the arrests in Marseille, accusing her rivals of turning a blind eye to Islamic terrorism.

Addressing on Wednesday 5,000 flag-waving supporters in the city where the men were detained, she said: “I have been denouncing this terrible poison of Islamic terrorism since I launched my campaign… and none of my rivals are willing to debate the subject.

“They wanted to stay quiet about this problem, to suppress it, to keep it at a distance like one sweeps dust under the carpet.”

Le Pen, 48, has spent years trying to build support for the National Front (FN) by campaigning on bread-and-butter issues such as the economy, but in the final days of the race she has returned to the party’s stock themes of national security and immigration.

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  • Spinbuster 21/04/2017, 8:04 am

    What is needed for Le Pen is an Oradour-sur-Glane equivalent or another Nice on election eve.
    Sounds terrible I know, but the misery will pale in insignificance beside life under Sharia.
    Which sorta makes you wonder about the psyche of the average froggie .. I would have thought that after Nice a political party that booted Islam would be a lay down misère at the polls.

    Perhaps there is a French equivalent of the ABC loaded with lefties and snowflake spin.
    I would not be surprised.

  • LadyMoonlight 21/04/2017, 8:08 am

    I can’t see Le Pen winning (I hope I am wrong) because it would be the same as if Geert Wilders won in The Netherlands…every other party would band together to form a coalition to keep her from forming government, unless of course she had outright numbers to win in her own right. That won’t happen.

  • LadyMoonlight 21/04/2017, 8:12 am

    As a side note – I don’t get how people can be influenced so much by a debate. When I make up my mind who to vote for (which is always conservative of course), then no power on Earth, or above it, could make me change my mind. Surely one has investigated the Who? What? etc. before an election and has formed an opinion and what they will vote. Being persuaded to change one’s vote because of a debate or interview at this stage in the French election (or any other election) means to me that one is very easily persuaded/led in a certain direction.

    • Lorraine 21/04/2017, 9:21 am

      the great unwashed did not care ,they have not made an opinion ,the political parties know the debate may sway them. others will not bother to vote

  • Bill 21/04/2017, 9:10 am

    I think too many of the French have swallowed too much of the Kool Aid of Socialism to allow them to see where their country is headed.

    • Joe Blogs 21/04/2017, 9:34 am

      Too true, Bill. Easy choice: vive la France or vive la islam.

  • Eliza 21/04/2017, 10:11 am

    Don’t forget the soros equivalent of get up. He has been pouring untold millions to undermine Le Pen and with the help of facebook keep her out of the loop by taking off all “fake news”

  • Honeybadger 21/04/2017, 10:24 am

    Amazing that the proud French have enabled the destruction of their culture by importing so many muslims. Civil war will ensue, the horse has bolted. Australia take note.

    • DB8tr 21/04/2017, 11:14 am

      It took 800 years for the Spanish Christian armies to finally conquer the Muslim raiders. They still have an annual parade to celebrate it. Of course the Christians are always singled out for this ‘evil’.

  • Cliff 21/04/2017, 10:43 am

    I’d love to see some TV crew find the Indonchinese Frenchman who was filmed immediately after the nightclub massacre resssuring his 4 year old son that “we will win because we have flowers” and interview him now.
    Unfortunately, his opinion is probably unchanged. There are many in France – and Australia – who would still be sprouting pious platitudes about multiculturalism, inclusion and the religion of peace even as they were being corralled in line by Islamic State to their execution, as we saw in Iraq.

    • Biking Voter 21/04/2017, 4:46 pm

      The bastard must have had the wrong flowers then, coz he still aint winning and neither are any other French.

    • GTD 21/04/2017, 5:23 pm

      What a frigging tool that father was.

      The kid had it right..
      But daddy they HAVE GUNS..