French presidential hopefuls wrap up campaigns in tight race

Remigio Civitarese
Aprile 21, 2017

PARIS French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron spoke with former US president Barack Obama on the phone on Thursday, in an apparent sign of support just three days before the first round of an uncertain presidential election. Assuming no candidate wins a majority (and that looks pretty much impossible), a run-off between the top two candidates will take place on May 7. "We saw (President Donald) Trump, we saw I'm mistrustful", he said.

First, Macron would need to show he can deliver on reforms of the labor market and pare back a French state that accounts for 57 percent of economic output, the highest level in Europe.

Her rival candidates were happy to let "immigrants turn France into a huge squat", she argued.

Also Wednesday, the Grand Mosque of Lyon issued an appeal urging Muslims to cast ballots instead of isolating themselves, "so that all the children of France, regardless of their skin color, their origins or their religion, are fully involved in the future of their country".

Hamon won the Socialist primary but the party is deeply divided, and Socialist President Francois Hollande is so unpopular that he's not seeking a second term.

A poll by the BVA firm published Wednesday evening said Macron led with a one-point advantage over Le Pen, with Fillon and Melenchon four points behind.

Demonstartors march behind a banner as they stage a protest against the far-right Front National (FN) in Marseille on April 19, 2017 in a reszponse to the campaign meeting in the city of the French presidential election candidate for the Front National (FN) party Marine Le Pen. Authorities announced Tuesday that they had arrested two Islamic radicals suspected of plotting a possible attack around the vote.

Ms Le Pen has spent years trying to broaden support for the party founded by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen but she appears to have suspended that approach in the final days of rallying before Sunday's first round of voting.

“What is at stake in this election is the continuity of France as a free nation, our existence as a people, ” she said in February 2017.

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