June 29, 2017

As Macron works for rural vote, Le Pen announces political alliance

01 May 2017, 04:42 | Candice Butler

France's tense presidential race is colliding with May Day labor marches in a campaign dominated by worries over jobs and seen as a test of populism's global appeal.

But Le Pen's efforts to clean up her National Front party's anti-Semitic image could be undermined by a parallel Paris event by her father, Jean-Marie, expelled from the party over his extreme views.

Le Pen and Macron, who says he is "neither of the left nor the right", eliminated France's traditional political forces to reach the May 7 run-off.

The latest opinion poll showed Macron leading Le Pen by 61 percent to 39 ahead of Sunday's election, which offers France a choice between his vision of closer integration with a modernised European Union and her calls to cut immigration and take the country out of the euro.

An Odoxa poll Friday showed 40 percent of Melenchon's supporters would back Macron, 41 percent would abstain and 19 percent would vote for Le Pen.

The presidential candidate denied that her position on the euro has changed.

Macron said their far-right and right-wing alliance made the campaign battle lines even clearer.

Dupont-Aignan is a former member of the right-centre party Les Republicains.

Mr Dupont-Aignan and Ms Le Pen, in a joint statement on Saturday, said that "the transition from the single currency to the European common currency is not a prerequisite for any economic policy".

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Amid worries about rising nationalism, French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron is visiting the Holocaust Memorial in Paris with a somber message: never again.

Cheers of "Marine President!" and anti-immigrant chants rose up in the crowd of thousands for Le Pen's rally Monday north of Paris.

Le Pen went on to say that the euro's likely demise was evident in signs that the European Central Bank (ECB) might soon start reducing the amount of money it pumps into the system through quantitative easing.

Campaigning in Villepinte, a suburb north of the capital, Marine Le Pen told a rally: "Emmanuel Macron is just Francois Hollande who wants to stay and who is hanging on to power like a barnacle".

Le Pen has attempted to woo new voters on either side of the political divide, telling leftists their real enemy is the free-marketeer ex-banker, and conservatives that Macron would continue the policies of the unpopular outgoing Socialists and be soft on terrorism.

Voter surveys show Macron winning next Sunday with 59-60 percent of the vote, and Le Pen's plans to quit the European Union and the euro are among the least popular policies in her protectionist, anti-immigration electoral platform.

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen's attempt to offer reassurances on her euro exit policy shows how voter attachment to the single currency represents one of her most hard electoral hurdles.

Le Pen senior has repeatedly called the Nazi gas chambers a "detail" of history. And if you map the votes that Le Pen and Macron geographically, Le Pen will emerge victorious with eight of the 18 regions while Macron trails behind with only six regions. With less of a quarter of the popular vote tallied, many found the candidate arrogant for taking his election for granted thanks to the probable anti-National Front vote that would turn in his favor in the second round.

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