French presidential hopefuls wrap up campaigns in tight race

Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen are holding on to their lead as the frontrunners to narrowly beat other candidates in the first round of France's presidential election, a Cevipof poll for Le Monde newspaper showed yesterday.

With four days until Sunday's first round of the presidential election, candidates blanketed the country ahead of the nail-biting election.

Still, caveats must apply following Donald Trump's victory in the USA presidential election and Britons' vote to leave the European Union, events which both caught markets off guard past year.

Le Pen and Macron have jostled for the lead in opinion polls, with conservative candidate Francois Fillon third and far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon fourth.

Asked if Juncker believed that the EU can survive if Marine Le Pen becomes president of France, she quoted an interview Juncker gave to the German weekly Welt am Sonntag on 19 March: "If Marine Le Pen would win the election, it would not be the end of the European project".

That was in line with the record abstention level in the 2002 election, when far-right National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen made it to the run-off before he was beaten by conservative Jacques Chirac.

The 26-year-old says, "We saw Trump, we saw Brexit ... so I'm mistrustful".

Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon's ratings have plummeted to as low as 8 percent and no pollster sees him qualifying for the second round.

Le Pen dismissed as "folly" government statements that France, which has been subjected to multiple deadly attacks in recent years, must be prepared to live with the threat of terrorism. However, Le Pen has lost some ground as Fillon and Melenchon closed the gap.

After his meeting with Anouar Kbibech, head of the French Muslim federation CFCM, Macron issued a statement insisting on the importance of respecting France's secular traditions but saying those shouldn't be used to target Muslims.

Basing their assumptions on decisiveness research, some pollsters and financial analysts say a low turnout favors Le Pen, whose supporters show up as the most sure about their vote and the most determined to vote. She noted that Algerians who had served French colonialism had been treated badly by forcing them to live in "uninhabitable camps" in France.

"We opened the door of the house of France to the mafia, to terrorists who quickly understood the benefits they could get from our incredible powerlessness and send their soldiers of hate among the migrant flows to hit our country in the heart", Le pen said.

  • Leroy Wright