France election: Le Pen and Macron spar ahead of run-off

Paris: French shoppers would be paying for their baguettes in francs within a year if far-right candidate Marine Le Pen wins the presidential election next weekend, her National Front (FN) party's deputy leader said Monday.

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.

Referring to France's stagnant economy and it jobless rate of about 10 per cent, the elder Le Pen said of Macron: "He wants to dynamize the economy, but he is among those who dynamited it".

When the elder Le Pen made it into the final round of the 2002 presidential election, some 1.3 million people protested nationally on May 1 against his xenophobic and anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Earlier, her estranged father - FN founder Jean-Marie Le Pen - attended a march from the statue of Joan of Arc, a long-time FN icon.

In a feisty speech, Macron told thousands of his supporters he would defend "free democracy" if voters choose him on Sunday after Le Pen had urged voters to reject "the world of finance, of arrogance, of money as king" she said her opponent embodied.

Macron, seeking to remind voters of the National Front's dark past, paid homage on Monday (Tuesday NZT) to a Moroccan man thrown to his death in the Seine River amid a far-right march over two decades ago.

Immediately after being eliminated in the first-round vote, Mr Fillon called for his supporters to back her centrist rival, Emmanuel Macron.

France election: Le Pen and Macron spar ahead of run-off
France election: Le Pen and Macron spar ahead of run-off

Mr Macron is now favourite to become France's youngest ever president, leading Ms Le Pen by 19 points, but she has shown she is a canny campaigner. Don't give Mr Macron one vote.

She called for France to reclaim its "independence" from the European Union but made no mention of her proposal to drop the euro, the part of her campaign platform which is the least popular with voters, and which she has played down in recent days.

At a campaign event in Villepinte on May Day, Le Pen referenced the geography of France, going on to talk about French influence across the world from Shanghai to Mexico.

Le Pen has portrayed her pro-EU rival as a continuation of the current, unpopular, Socialist government he was once part of, while labelling herself the candidate of change, belief and action.

Independent centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron looks at some of the 2,500 photographs of young Jews deported from France, during a visit to the Shoah memorial in Paris, France, Sunday, April 30, 2017. She has been actively courting the support of the blue-collar workers who cast their ballots in the April 23 first round for far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon.

CGT leader Philippe Martinez said he "deeply disagreed" with that approach, arguing that Le Pen and Macron "are not the same thing".

As reported by The Financial Times, Marine Le Pen was expected to lose the May 7 run-off, but 55% of manual labourers say they will vote for her, according to Ifop, a pollster.

  • Anthony Vega