French election: Macron and Le Pen wrap up tense campaign

Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen went through to the second round after a vote on 23 April

The two candidates hoping to be France’s next president are making a final push for votes on the last day of campaigning before Sunday’s election.

Centrist Emmanuel Macron – who has a substantial lead in opinion polls – is visiting the southern city of Rodez.

His far-right rival, Marine Le Pen, was heckled as she arrived at Reims cathedral, in northern France.

Mr Macron said that he had already decided who his prime minister would be, if he were elected on Sunday.

The former economy minister implied that the person themselves did not know. His prime minister would reflect the spirit of renewal he had built, Mr Macron added.

He also said that he would introduce an element of proportional representation for elections to France’s National Assembly within his first year in office.

Emmanuel Macron (centre) outside Rodez cathedral in southern France (5 May 2017)
Mr Macron (centre) was in contemplative mood outside Rodez cathedral on Friday morning

Ms Le Pen, who stepped aside as leader of the National Front (FN) to fight the election, has already announced that her prime minister would be the mainstream nationalist Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, who was defeated in the first round.

Ms Le Pen met representatives of a police trade union in the morning, before travelling to Reims cathedral.

Footage from outside the cathedral showed crowds of protesters, who were students or supporters of Mr Macron or defeated far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, shouting slogans hostile to Ms Le Pen.

The candidate condemned the protest, tweeting (in French): “Mr Macron’s supporters are violent everywhere, even in Reims cathedral, symbolic and sacred place. No dignity.”

An ecclesiastical visit was also on the agenda for her rival – Mr Macron posted video of himself touring Rodez cathedral, referencing “our thousand-year history”.

Poll tracker

Emmanuel Macron

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Emmanuel Macron

Marine Le Pen

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Marine Le Pen

 

The polling average line looks at the five most recent national polls and takes the median value, ie, the value between the two figures that are higher and two figures that are lower.

Mr Dupont-Aignan said on Friday that Emmanuel Macron was “a dangerous candidate” for France.

Ms Le Pen, interviewed on RTL, said Mr Macron’s decisions would lead to the dissolution of France, with “migratory submersion” and “social devastation”.

Marine Le Pen leaves RTL Radio HQ in Paris on Friday morning (5 May 2017)Both candidates did media interviews on Friday morning

Meanwhile Mr Macron filed a lawsuit over online rumours that he had a secret bank account in the Caribbean.

He has strongly denied the allegations, which were mentioned by Ms Le Pen in Wednesday evening’s rancorous final TV debate between the two contenders.

Tourists walk at Trocadero square as activists from the environmentalist group Greenpeace unfurl a giant banner on the Eiffel Tower which reads Greenpeace activists unfurled a giant banner on the Eiffel Tower urging people to resist the rise of the National Front

An opinion poll by the Odoxa Institute for France Info predicted Sunday’s election would have the lowest turnout of any second-round presidential vote in France since 1969. The institute reported that far-left voters were particularly unlikely to vote.

An egg was thrown at Marine Le Pen while she was campaigning on Thursday

On Friday the campaign group Greenpeace unfurled a large banner with an anti-FN message from the Eiffel Tower in central Paris.

What happens after Sunday?

Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen came top of the 11 candidates in total who participated in the first round of voting on 23 April.

While the outcome of Sunday’s second round should be clear that evening, the results will be officially proclaimed by France’s constitutional council on Thursday, 11 May.

Sunday, 14 May, marks the end of outgoing President François Hollande’s term, and is the latest possible date for the inauguration and official transfer of power to his successor.

Mr Hollande, of the Socialist Party (PS), chose not to stand for a second five-year term due to his unpopularity.

While Mr Macron served in Mr Hollande’s cabinet, he is not a member of the PS and has formed his own political movement, En Marche! (On the move).

 

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