Le Pen visits French factory, Macron wins ally before runoff

Cheryl Sanders
May 1, 2017

The backdrop was further muddied by the rise of Trumpism and the eruption of terrorism as the salient issue when a known Muslim criminal-turned-terrorist was shot by the police after he had felled a policeman.

Ms Le Pen's manifesto has been adapted to take in some of her putative prime minister's policies.

The newly formed duo released a joint statement on Saturday alongside a modified manifesto.

French football star and Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane called Friday on his countrymen to do their "utmost to avoid" voting far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen into office. The socialist Benoît Hamon has also endorsed Macron, but reluctantly so, again for the sake of lashing against the Front National's extremist threat.

Incumbent President Francois Hollande was unruffled when he was caught having an affair with Julie Gayet, an actress almost two decades his junior, while former President Nicholas Sarkozy infamously left his wife for the actress, musician and model Carla Bruni. 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.

"No, the National Front is not a party like any other", Macron said in the town of Chatellerault.

As the current round of European elections continued with last weekend's first presidential vote in France, the outcome highlighted an ongoing debate which is likely to continue to shape politics for the next few decades: how important are nations?

"We will build a national unity government that will bring together people chosen for their skills and their love of France", said Le Pen, 48.

The scandal over alleged remarks by a party vice-president was the second time this month that Le Pen has been cornered by France's World War II past.

She was accompanied by a local politician. Macron, on the other hand, is socially and economically liberal with a strong pro-European orientation.

The battle between Macron and Le Pen has always been seen as a close re-run of the 2016 U.S. Elections, which saw the close fight between Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton.

Polls predict Macron, a former economy minister, will win the May 7 run-off with about 59 to 60 percent of the vote. Part of his appeal also derives from his youthfulness very much like Justin Trudeau of Canada.

In the past he has called his party "Gaullist" after followers of the late president of the centre-right Charles de Gaulle.

All eyes are now focused on the second round.

Besides this sudden transformation, Nassar added that the far-right candidate had made a number of alluring promises to gain the support of the army and several financial institutions.

Macron won the first round with 24.01 percent of the votes, while Le Pen got 21.30 percent. This tack seems to be working.

"The French understand that the stakes in this election are to re-orient Europe" away from globalisation, said Dupont-Aignan during a televised debate on April 4.

According to pollster Harris Interactive, who correctly predicted the result of the first round with remarkable accuracy, Mr Macron now has a lead of 61% against Ms Le Pen's 39%.

In a clever and astute move, she has temporarily stepped aside from the presidency of her party to reach out to the wider public.

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