Marine Le Pen Aligns Herself With Mainstream Onetime Rival

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01 May, 2017

The tense campaign interrupted the usual calm of the May Day holiday, as supporters of both candidates took to the streets, airwaves and social networks to weigh in on an election closely watched by global financial markets and France's neighbours as a test of the global populist wave.

With less than a week before Sunday's run-off, far-right leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron are holding separate rallies.

Wanted or not, Le Pen was praised by 88-year-old father Jean-Marie, the co-founder of her National Front party whom she expelled in 2015 after he reiterated anti-Semitic comments.

France's Presidential election heats up as posters of Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron are seen here.

"I've always been against the European Union", said Lydie, who like her husband is a civil servant and wants France to leave the EU.

Emmanuel Macron, as a former minister under the current and highly unpopular president Francois Hollande, has demonstrated his hostility to the working class by pushing for "reforms" that would roll back the rights of labor and line the pockets of French capitalists. The move aims to secure the almost 1.7 million votes that the anti-European Union conservative got when he was eliminated from the presidential race in the first round of balloting.

Said, now a chauffeur who supports Mr Macron, said his father was targeted "because he was a foreigner, an Arab".

The vote in the world's fifth largest economy, a key member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defence alliance, will be the first to elect a president who is from neither of the main political groupings: the candidates of the Socialists and conservative party The Republicans were knocked out in the first round on April 23.

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But while three other more left-wing unions including the biggest, the CGT, have called for a demonstration against Marine Le Pen's vision of French identity and opposition to immigration, they have stopped short of backing Macron. Relativism and anti-establishment sentiment are trending in French public opinion, and electoral forecasts predict a surge in abstention rates among potential Macron voters.

The niece of Marine Le Pen, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, said on Sunday that he was using death and deportations for political ends and indulging in "World War Two blackmail". According to Pollsters Ifop, who asked French voters who they would vote for if Macron and Le Pen goes through to the second round, Macron will win against Le Pen at 60.93 percent versus 39.07 percent.

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.

Le Pen's announcement came with the National Front again fighting a furore over a senior official's reported remarks about Nazi gas chambers.

Le Pen had for months seemed sure of a second round place, even though the race was closely fought, and polls ahead of round one showed Macron with a far greater chance than Fillon of beating her next Sunday.

But the war remains a hard area for Ms Le Pen.

On Monday, Ms Le Pen said she was stepping aside as FN leader while campaigning so as to remain "above partisan considerations". Florian Philippot, a National Front vice president speaking on BFM television, described it as "excellent news" and "a turning point in this campaign".


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