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France's would-be presidents rally in Paris days before vote

20 April 2017

The top two vote-getters Sunday of the 11 candidates on the ballot advance to the May 7 presidential runoff.

"We can't decide who is allowed to come here any more", Le Pen said, adding: "The French sometimes have fewer rights than foreigners - even illegal ones".

An Ipsos-Sopra Sterna poll showed independent centrist Emmanuel Macron and Le Pen tied at 22 percent in the April 23 first round, with Melenchon and conservative Francois Fillon at 20 and 19 percent respectively.

Commemorating the World War I battle of Chemin des Dames in northern France, Hollande credited Europe with "having protected us against war". And he has turned heads with simultaneous appearances at campaign rallies using holograms, a technological first for a French presidential campaign and a sign of renewed vigour.

"Do I have to answer to Marine Le Pen about my anti-Western friendships when she takes tea with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin?" he asked. "Honestly, she is the main reason you should be invested in this election", Oliver said.

Scandal-hit conservative Francois Fillon and radical leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon are steaming up behind the two frontrunners, and with around one in three of the French electorate still undecided, candidates are scrapping for every vote. FILE - In this July 12, 2016 file photo, French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron attends a rally for his movement, En Marche!

Mr Macron, a 39-year-old former Rothschild banker, took the opportunity to reject accusations of elitism, telling BFM TV: 'I've always paid all my tax in France and I've always had all my accounts in France. (In Motion!), in Paris.

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On Sunday, German President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, seemingly interfered in the French election campaign, urging voters "not to listen to the siren songs of those who promise you a great French future after getting rid of all that is part of France today - guaranteeing European stability and being a pillar of the European Union", in an apparent reference to Le Pen's rhetoric.

While some analysts say that a Macron win will nearly certainly help to catapult the Euro thanks to positive investor sentiment.

Warning against the consequences of a vote for the far-right, he said "we feel everywhere the temptation of barbarism ready to surge in other guises".

"The money I earned in my life, I earned it". Fillon is accused of paying his wife for work she never did, but he's convinced the scandal won't hurt his chances on election day.

"With Mr Macron, it would be Islamism on the move", Le Pen said at a rally Sunday, according to The Local. French investigators are probing the case.

But the most striking trend in past days has been the late surge in support for Melenchon, a former Trotskyist who would pull France out of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and, like Le Pen, possibly the European Union, too. Both deny any wrongdoing though Fillon acknowledges he made mistakes.