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France

Election frontrunners in rally mode in final sprint

media Civil servants prepare electoral documents for the upcoming French presidential election. Philippe Laurenson/REUTERS

French presidential election frontrunners Emmanuel Macron, Marine Le Pen, Jean-Luc Mélenchon and François Fillon will hold rallies on Monday hoping to gain momentum in the final week of campaigning.

With various opinion polls showing a narrowing gap between the four candidates and with a significant portion of voters still undecided, the next five days could decide the fate of the election, which has been one of the most unpredictable in decades.

Both Macron and Le Pen still lead the polls’ ratings on 22 points. However, their lead has reduced over the past fortnight.

The Centrist candidate Macron will hold the biggest meeting of his campaign in Bercy, close to the Ministry of Economy building in South East of Paris while Le Pen will hold a rally in the northern Paris suburb of Villette. Around 400 people demonstrated in the suburb of Aubervilliers on Sunday against the Le Pen rally.

Meanwhile, according to a close aide of the former economy minister, Macron “wants to project himself as the only candidate who focuses on unity and doesn’t play on fears, antagonisms and divisions.”

Macron’s all-inclusive agenda is in response to the criticism Le Pen levelled at him in Perpignan on Saturday. Le Pen accused both Macron and Fillon as being soft on radical Islam.

Mélenchon too will be campaigning in the Paris region. The hard-left candidate, who has registered a spectacular surge over the past three weeks, will be taking a boat ride in the canals around Paris, starting in the northern suburb of Bobigny and ending near Bercy.

At a rally on Sunday in Toulouse, Mélenchon hit out at his election rivals as well as US President Donald Trump and the European Union.

Mélenchon’s campaign has also stood out because of its tech savvy nature. On Tuesday, the 65-year-old will hold a rally in Dijon while his virtual avatar will be present simultaneously in six other places as holograms.

Fillon, who has rebounded from the ‘fake jobs’ scandal, will hold a rally on Monday in the Riviera city of Nice.

He now trails Macron and Le Pen by three points and is behind Mélenchon by one point.

In an interview with the Journal du Dimanche, Fillon expressed confidence of success claiming he will be in the second round.

On April 23, France will vote in the first round from which two of the 11 candidates will go through to a decisive run-off on May 7.

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