Published: Sun, April 02, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

French candidate Macron focuses his attacks on Le Pen

French candidate Macron focuses his attacks on Le Pen

Marine Le Pen, the far-right French presidential candidate whose recent surge in the polls has analysts comparing the charismatic politician to President Trump, could ride the global populist wave that landed the NY billionaire in the White House to an upset victory.

We settle into second class for the next train ride of his campaign and the 39-year-old politician who thinks he can beat Marine Le Pen and break the populist wave shakes my hand.

The latest opinion polls suggest 25 percent support for Emmanuel Macron and 24 percent support for Marine Le Pen.

Emmanuel Macron met hardline southern French conservative Christian Estrosi on Saturday, a sign of how widely the favourite to win France's presidential election is throwing his centrist electoral net. However, Le Pen still had by far the most solid voter base, with an unchanged 81 percent of her voters certain to pick her.

Le Pen made her stance on staying in the European Union clear during a debate last month.

"The system is panicking because it sees people are waking up", she said. "And several other nationalities I haven't mentioned", said Macron.

Reiterating her anti-globalisation and anti-immigration views, she declared: "We do not want France to be open to all commercial and human flows, without protection and borders".

French Far-left Presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon ruled out asking Benoit Hamon, the official Socialist party candidate he has overtaken in opinion polls, to pull out of the race and join him.

The same now applies to Trump.

In France, where even fringe politicians are expected to dazzle with wit and erudition, the brash and often unscripted public persona of the USA president has become something of a liability for his chief French ally, who was spotted in the basement cafeteria of Trump Tower on an impromptu visit in January.

In fact, the substance of Trump's ideas - or versions of them - does remain popular with a number of French voters, who favour a return of national sovereignty, immigration bans and rapprochement with President Vladimir Putin's Russian Federation.

Melenchon, a political veteran, whose potential election score in polls has risen to as high as 16 percent in the past few days, told French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche: "No, I do not bother with him".

The pro-EU centrist candidate also criticised the Front National's concept of nationalism and her notion of patriotism. On the foreign policy front, he has opposed economic globalization and France's participation in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Her core supporters relished seeing her with Vladimir Putin, a strong woman standing next to a strongman.

In her recent speech in Lille, days after returning from Russian Federation, she called Putin a "real statesman" engaged in the same "fight against terrorism" as France.

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