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Le Pen; Macron

France heads for ‘election of unknowns’ as Le Pen rises

Marine Le Pen has gained ground on her rivals in the polls as concerns about security rise. “This weekend was an all-out, run-for-your-life affair,” Yves-Marie Cann, head of political studies at pollster Elabe, tols Bloomberg in phone interview.

Published: February 21, 2017, 9:36 am

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    “More than ever, this is a presidential election of unknowns,” Cann said.

    Le Pen’s chances of winning the election in France have improved as Emmanuel Macron drew fierce criticisms with comments – also from the centre and left – on France’s tarnished colonial past and “crimes against humanity”, but Bloomberg reports that French market risk premium is increasing with the FN leader’s rise.

    Le Pen is quickly narrowing the gap with her rivals. OpinionWay showed Macron would defeat Le Pen by 58 percent to 42 percent in the second round, but his advantage has halved in less than two weeks. “It’s all about security,” said Bruno Jeanbart, director of OpinionWay. “Le Pen is benefiting from the fact that they’re all busy either bickering or unable to disentangle themselves from their many controversies.”

    Monday’s daily OpinionWay poll showed anti-immigration candidate Le Pen leading with to 27 percent, with Macron and Republican Francois Fillon unchanged at 20 percent each. OpinionWay also put Socialist Benoit Hamon at 16 percent and Melenchon at 12 percent, meaning a combined candidacy would be favored to make it to the second round against Le Pen.

    But Le Pen’s tough stance on the race riots that flared up across France last week, ostensibly against “police brutality”, has increased her chances. The National Front leader is tapping into voters’ fears of increased chaos as black and Arab youths trashed several cities across France for days after a black delinquent called “Theo” alleged that he was “raped” by police during a drug bust.

    In a separate Harris poll Le Pen was considered to be best placed to deal with security matters, after more than 200 people were killed in terrorist attacks in just over two years and this month a soldier in the Louvre fired five shots at a black assailant armed with a machete and crying “Allah Akbar”.

    As a result of Marine’s increased popularity, the spread between French 10-year bonds and similar-maturity German bunds rose 5 basis point to 79 basis points in Paris on Monday, the widest risk premium in more than four years, Bloomberg reported.

    Macron, an outspoken globalist, had been leading Fillon in the polls before his first significant misstep last week. Eric Woerth, a former budget minister and supporter of Fillon, called Macron a “television evangelist” on RTL Radio.

    Valerie Pecresse, who heads the Paris regional government, told RMC radio that Macron doesn’t have the “character” to stand up to world leaders and Thomas Piketty, an economist who advises Socialist Benoit Hamon, said on BFM TV Sunday than Macron represents “the Europe of the past that has failed”.

    After his visit to Algeria last week, Macron is in London on Tuesday. Le Pen is currently in Lebanon where she met President Michel Aoun on Monday, and Hamon was in Portugal over the weekend.

    Fillon, after earlier promising that he would quit the race if put under formal investigation, has backtracked on that pledge in an interview with Le Figaro newspaper.

    The first round takes place on April 23, with the two top candidates going through to a May 7 run-off.

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    Europe

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