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French candidates boost security ahead of tense vote

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On Christmas Eve 2015, with France reeling from terror attacks in Paris a month before, Emmanuel Macron sent a letter to the president and prime minister, urging sweeping measures to tackle French inequalities that he believed were fueling extremism.

Only the top two will advance to the run-off on May 7.

The 65-year-old anti-establishment contender said about the EU: "We change it or we leave it".

Mr Melenchon and the 10 other presidential candidates appeared on a television programme on Thursday night where they are scheduled to speak one after another.

Le Pen, the anti-immigration and anti-EU candidate, used her final appearances to highlight a nationalist agenda in which "the essentials" are security, illegal immigration and the French identity, which she says is being lost as Islamists try to usurp French civilization and multiply the threat of terrorism.

French Socialist presidential candidate Benoit Hamon is holding a rally and concert in Paris four days before a vote likely to devastate his once-powerful party.

Demonstartors march behind a banner as they stage a protest against the far-right Front National (FN) in Marseille on April 19, 2017 in a reszponse to the campaign meeting in the city of the French presidential election candidate for the Front National (FN) party Marine Le Pen.

Macron is the only candidate so far to have said he has talked with Obama, a popular figure in France.

Tf1 guests normally appear beside an European Union flag tethered to a French tricolour but, unlike rival candidate Emmanuel Macron, Ms. Le Pen insisted that only the French flag should feature alongside her.

Le Pen has said she would extend the law banning "ostensible" religious signs to the streets of France. She said Wednesday that "I am a candidate in the election for the French republic" and said Europe is acting like France's "enemy".

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