Le Pen's Hopes Of Becoming President Come Down To One Factor

Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen says there could be a "very big surprise" when the French cast their ballots May 7 in the final round to choose a new leader, and she wins.

Abandoning the National Front is likely a desperate attempt by Le Pen to break with the party's extremist past, which stands between her and anti-globalist French voters who aren't xenophobic.

As the country's presidential race heats up, its far-right populist candidate has declared that she's ditching her party altogether to court the whole of France.

Defeated candidates have encouraged their proponents to vote Macron - or, perhaps more accurately, not to vote Le Pen - which tasks the frontrunner with uniting defected allies from the right and the left.

Macron placed first in the first-round of the election, followed by Le Pen, and he is viewed as the favorite.

A woman walks past electoral posters of French centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, right, and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in Saint Jean de Luz, southwestern France, Wednesday, April 26, 2017.

Le Pen won 21.4 percent of the vote on Sunday to 23.9 percent for Macron, who is now projected to defeat her by a margin of about 20 points in the runoff.

"I think we underestimate Marine Le Pen's result", Jean-Christophe Cambadelis, the head of the Socialist Party, warned on Tuesday morning radio.

Le Pen in the past has said she would impose limitations on expressions of Judaism in France not because she regards them as a threat, but to preserve the principle of equality in order to implement similar steps against the spread of Islam in France, which she and her party often describe as a "threat".

Separately, cyber security firm Trend Micro has warned in a new report that Mr Macron's campaign has been targeted by what appears to be the same Russian operatives responsible for hacks of Democratic campaign officials before last year's presidential election in the United States.

The runoff election will be held on May 7, and the change will go into effect nearly immediately, as France normally inaugurates new presidents around 10 days after their election.

On Sunday evening, the prevailing feeling was of relief that Le Pen did not come first and would face a moderate candidate in the run-off.

"I will feel freer, I will be above partisan considerations, it's an important act", Le Pen said.

"He will have to recycle a lot of people from the left", said political analyst Philippe Braud.

Since securing her berth in the run-off, Le Pen has turbo-charged her campaign with a string of appearances and statements, leaving her opponent on the back foot. Though the two candidates ran neck and neck in the first round of 11 candidates, Macron is expected to trounce Le Pen by some 20 percentage points in the May 7 vote. The back and forth was shown live on Macron's Facebook page, signaling a desire not to let Le Pen hog the limelight.

Le Pen has vowed to keep the Amiens plant open if elected, come what may.

They successfully forecast the popular vote showing Democrat Hillary Clinton beating Trump by 48 percent to 46 percent, but not his victory in the electoral college.

But Common Sense, a conservative moment opposed to abortion and gay rights, has refused to vote against Le Pen.

Macron served as economy minister in the Socialist government before quitting in August to launch his presidential bid.

  • Leroy Wright