French frontrunners Le Pen, Macron hold rival rallies


PARIS: The two frontrunners in the French presidential election, far-right leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron, staged rival rallies in Paris on Monday, seeking to stay ahead in a tightening race just days before the vote. Macron staged his biggest rally of the campaign so far, attracting 20,000 people to the Bercy national indoor arena while a topless woman protester briefly interrupted Le Pen’s speech to 6,000 supporters at a concert hall. After weeks of twists and turns, the unpredictable race has narrowed dramatically, with surveys suggesting four candidates are in contention to win one of the top two spots in the vote next Sunday and progress to the run-off a fortnight later. Scandal-hit conservative Francois Fillon and radical leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon are steaming up behind the two frontrunners, and with around one in four of the electorate still undecided, candidates are scrapping for every vote. Macron and Le Pen, who have both scored as high as 25 percent in voter surveys, stood at 23 percent and 22.5 percent respectively in the latest Ifop poll updated daily, while Melenchon has surged to 19.5 percent, equal with Fillon. Macron delivered an upbeat speech that focused on his vision of France in five years’ time.



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