Macron would beat Le Pen in French presidential runoff

Polls released over the weekend have shown that the centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron is well placed to beat Le Pen in the second round and become the next president of France.

Polls show that support for the anti-immigrant and anti-EU candidate has been consistent for four years now.

Fillon meanwhile faces a fraught two months ahead of the vote after French prosecutors' decided on Friday to launch a full judicial inquiry into claims he paid his family for fake parliamentary jobs.

Fillon, who was previously leading the race, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, saying his wife's job as his parliamentary assistant is "perfectly justified".

Fillon's bid for the presidency has struggled to recover following allegations that he paid members of his family hundreds of thousands of euros for work they never did.

Another blow to France's conservative presidential candidate.

Magistrates will investigate whether this amounts to misappropriation of corporate assets.

"But if it's 55-45, it could be a different matter", he said, adding that her performance in the first round would be crucial if she is to gain enough momentum to snatch a win in the second round. François de Rugy from France's ecology party and François Bayrou, a veteran centrist politician, have thrown their weight behind the 39-year-old.

Ms Le Pen's chief of staff was put under formal investigation on Feb 22 after a day of questioning over the alleged misuse of European Union funds to pay parliamentary assistants.

Macron, a former economy minister, has surged from an outsider to a frontrunner.

While it still remains unlikely that Le Pen will win the keys to the Elysée Palace in May, no one now dares rule out the possibility.

The fact that the far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon and the socialist runner Benoit Hamon haven't managed to form an alliance reduces the chances that there will be a final round with both far-left and far-right candidates.

With polls consistently placing Le Pen out in front for first round voting, the former Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned France's establishment of the "danger" of assuming she can not win, Euractiv has reported.

The presidential race remains highly uncertain with the unstable worldwide picture - from Donald Trump and Brexit to the surge of rightwing nationalism in countries such as the Netherlands - is mirrored by an anti-establishment mood in France.

  • Leroy Wright