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Win or lose, Marine Le Pen is a nightmare for the EU

Win or lose, Marine Le Pen is a nightmare for the EU

The attack carried out on the French capital's main thoroughfare and major landmark, the Champs-Elysees, has shaken the nation once again, just two days before the first round of the presidential election (April 23).

Le Pen, an outspoken critic of the European Union and the policies of globalization and mass migration it peddles, has used her message to transform her party from one that sits on the fringes of French politics to one that's a driving force at the very heart of the national conversation. Sunday's voting will be followed by a runoff on May 7 between the top two candidates. FN vice-president Florian Philippot responded to Cazeneuve on Twitter, saying the prime minister should "have resigned a long time ago for his incoherence and lack of rigour".

Three suspects close to the attacker remain in custody, Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre of the Paris prosecutor's office said Saturday.

The French election may well see two anti-EU candidates fight each other in the last round of voting.

Barack Obama spoke to 39-year-old Macron on Thursday about the "important upcoming presidential election in France", a spokesman for the former US president said.

Macron, who from 2014 to 2016 was economy minister in the Socialist government that Le Pen has criticized repeatedly for its security record, said the solutions were not as simple as she suggested.

The paper also reported that Macron's chief rival for the presidency, National Front leader, Marine Le Pen, would not campaign Friday out of respect for the victims.

The attack on Thursday night on the Champs Elysees boulevard added a new source of unpredictability to a closely contested election that will decide the management of France's 2.2 trillion euro economy, which vies with Britain for the rank of fifth largest in the world.

Supporters of Francois Fillon, a center-right candidate whose momentum has been curtailed by graft charges, and a sizable chunk of Macron's followers would probably rally to Le Pen's cause if she were to face leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the final round, according to Gave.

When the French vote for president Sunday, their choice will resonate far beyond France's borders, from Syrian battlefields to Hong Kong trading floors and the halls of the U.N. Security Council.

The ideological underpinnings of the two candidates' eurosceptism are worlds apart, however.

"In times such as these we have to demonstrate that France is united", he said.

The election is the first in the history of France's 59-year-old Fifth Republic to take place under a state of emergency.

Macron, a 39-year-old moderate whom Fillon has portrayed as too inexperienced for the top job, said France was paying for the intelligence jobs cuts made when Fillon was prime minister between 2007 and 2012.

"I'm not going to let myself be influenced by people who are trying to frighten us", Paris resident Anne-Marie Redouin said near the heavily-guarded Eiffel Tower. "Anyone who pretends (otherwise) is both irresponsible and deceitful", he said on RTL Radio. A Bloomberg composite of French polls shows Macron has 24.5% support, while Le Pen holds 22.5%.

Others, fearful that Le Pen has been strengthened by the instability, said they would shift their votes from fringe candidates and try to vote strategically to keep the far-right out of power.


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