Fillon and Le Pen fraud probes to continue despite neutrality concerns

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has gone on the attack slamming her opponents in the race for the presidency.

The latest comments from conservative Francois Fillon, who accused the Socialist government on Sunday of failing to ensure security for candidates, underline the increasingly ugly tone of France's campaign.

Two polls released in France on Sunday showed Macron, a former economy minister running without the support of any traditional political party, would easily beat the far-right's Marine Le Pen in May's presidential election runoff.

Le Pen has maintained a strong lead in first round polling since 2013 and is therefore widely expected to top the preliminary vote on 23 April with around a quarter of the vote.

With polls consistently placing Le Pen out in front for first round voting, the former Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned France's establishment of the "danger" of assuming she can not win, Euractiv has reported.

In an attack that recalled U.S. President Donald Trump's confrontation with journalists, she added: "The media have chosen their candidate".

"They take the moral high ground, pretend to only analyze the facts and then shout about the freedom of the press as soon as you criticize them", she said to cheers.

Bayrou's pledge to support Macron removed a potential rival in the center ground just as increasing numbers of backers from the Socialist party and the center-right trickle in.

The Republicans' nominee Francois Fillon's chances to win against Le Pen in the run-off have remained 58 percent against 42 percent since February 22.

The 62-year-old former prime minister faces allegations he paid his wife for 15 years as a fake assistant, while one of Le Pen's aides was charged last week over allegations the party defrauded the European parliament.

The promises of Benoit Hamon are incompatible with a large union of French people against Le Pen.

Fillon has dismissed the claims as politically motivated but he acknowledged last weekend that his presidential bid had become "difficult", with hecklers often massing at his campaign stops.

Macron got a boost on Friday when German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was ready to meet him. "Many things can still happen", he said.

Protests at Front National rally.

  • Jon Douglas