- Thu, 04/20/2017 05:05 AM
Centrist Emmanuel Macron retains his spot status as favorite to win France's presidential election in a four-way race that is too close to call with the camp of far-right challenger Marine Le Pen ramping its euroskeptic rhetoric in a row with Brussels. Wednesday published Cevipof opinion poll indicates both frontrunners Macron and Le Pen losing some momentum prior to Sunday's first round while conservative Francois Fillon and far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon still remain in contention for the second round run-off.
In view of millions of French voters being undecided or planning to abstain, the voting emerges as the most unpredictable in decades leaving investors nervous about potential last minute surprises that could trigger market turmoil. Both Le Pen and Melenchon paint themselves as a defender of French workers and claim of being capable of taking France out of the European Union and the euro currency. Bank staffs’ are ordered to be at their desks through the night on Sunday to respond fast to the outcome.
Le Pen has pressed hard for her anti-immigration, anti-globalization message to mobilize the voters. While she prepares for the last big rally of her campaign in the Mediterranean city of Marseille, her camp got embroiled in an angry Twitter exchange with the European Commission. Upset at Le Pen's refusal to appear on France's TF1 television channel on Tuesday till the EU's yellow-starred blue flag was removed, the Commission tweeted of being proud of their flag which is a symbol of unity, solidarity and harmony between the people of Europe and suggested not to hide it. Le Pen's deputy Florian Philippot responded that soon they would be sticking that oligarchic rag in the cupboard.
Conducted on 11,601 people, Cevipof poll showed first round support for Le Pen dipping 2.5 percentage points since early April to stand at 22.5 percent while Macron’s support went down 2 points to 23 percent. Recent, Melenchon, a firebrand left-winger has surged with 19 percent while Fillon amidst a financial scandal, received 19.5 percent of support. According to polls, Macron may win the contest National Front chief Le Pen with a projected abstention rate of 28 percent, near the record level that helped Marine's father, Jean-Marie Le Pen win in 2002. A different poll also showed similar results.
An ex-prime minister, Fillion, 63 campaign was earlier derailed, thanks to an embezzlement inquiry targeting him, his wife and children. He got 11th hour public endorsements from ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy and ex-prime minister Alain Juppe. Fillon cried of being a victim of "dirty tricks" campaign and pledged to work to ensure France's institutions better protected the confidentiality of sensitive information. The campaign has seen sleaze allegations overshadowing hot button themes like unemployment and ways to revive France's sluggish economy.
But security and tackling the threat posed by Islamist militants had resurged after the arrest of two men in Marseille on Tuesday suspected of plotting an imminent attack. Tuesday, the Paris prosecutor stated of a video intercepted in early April and linked the two Frenchmen featured a machine gun placed on a table as well as a newspaper showing one of the presidential candidates on the front page. The featured candidate was Fillon. France's internal intelligence agency had warned the main candidates of a threat, campaign officials said.