Macron and Le Pen remain front runners in Presidential Elections

President Vladimir Putin last week met Le Pen, who has called for a closer alliance with Moscow.Fillon himself has come under fire from the left in France for advocating a softer tone towards Putin that contrasts with the Socialist government's hard line on European Union sanctions put in place over his annexation of Crimea and subsequent action in eastern Ukraine.Repeatedly attacking 39 year-old Macron for his "inexperience" and "immaturity", Fillon, a former prime minister, said Russian Federation was not the biggest threat to France and should not be treated as such.

Mr Smith said: "She can use the presidential election to stand as an MP and be the leader of a big group from inside parliament".

The fight in the first round would be close as most of the opinion polls have suggested. "However, to achieve that, she needs to convince all the voters who, in the second round, have said they will abstain, or vote blank or who are still undecided to vote for her", Charles St-Arnaud, senior strategist and economist at Nomura Securities International, said in a note.

The current elections have witnessed many changes in the recent weeks.

The poll though, like others this year, showed Macron beating her with 60 percent of votes in the May 7 second round.

Melenchon, a political veteran, whose potential election score in polls has risen to as high as 16 percent in the past few days, told French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche: "No, I do not bother with him".

However it noted that official Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon, who is in fifth place on 11.5 percent and also has hard left policies, could be vulnerable.

Estrosi is a key ally of conservative former President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Estrosi is from a wing of French conservative politics that is far to the right of the Socialist government under which the 39 year-old Macron served as economy minister until last year.

Fillon sought to get his campaign back on track by turning back the clock with a warning about France's heavy debts.

The centrist independent candidate said he had already established a good relationship with Prime Minister Theresa May.

The En Marche! leader, who held a campaign rally in London earlier this month, said he would be "very happy" if some of the 300,000 French people in London moved back to France.

  • Leroy Wright