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France

Presidential election: Wafer-thin margin separates top four for first round

media Opinion polls suggest the gap among the top four candidates for the first round of the election has further narrowed down. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

The top four candidates for the first round of the upcoming French presidential election are separated by a very small margin, the latest opinion poll indicates.

According to the Ifop survey that was published on Tuesday, Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron leads the ratings on 23 per cent ahead of far-right leader Marine Le Pen (22 per cent), communist-backed Jean-Luc Mélenchon (19.5 per cent) and the Les Republicains leader François Fillon (19 per cent).

This poll further underlines the unpredictable nature of this election. Compared to the poll conducted ten days ago by the same agency, Macron has remained stable on 23 per cent while Le Pen has lost two points and Mélenchon and Fillon have gained 0.5 point each.

On Monday, Opinionway published a poll that shows both Macron and Le pen on 22 per cent, Fillon on 21 per cent and Mélenchon on 18 per cent.

With just four days left before the campaigning ends and a big section of voters still undecided, all the candidates have gone into a campaign overdrive.

Perhaps, the most unique among them has been Mélenchon who, on Monday, sailed through northeast Paris on a barge, making stops along the canals to address his supporters.

On Tuesday, the 65-year-old far-left candidate will hold a rally in Dijon while his hologram appears at events in six other cities.

Macron held his biggest rally so far on Monday in front of 20,000 people in the Bercy arena where he defended the idea of the European Union and said that his EU would be “less bureaucratic” and would protect both “industrial and agricultural interests”.

Le Pen also held a rally in the northern Paris suburb of La Villette where she promised to tighten France’s borders and crack down on immigrants. There was a bit of drama as 15 minutes into her speech, a topless female protester burst onto the stage before getting bundled away by security guards.

Fillon held a rally in the southern French city of Nice where he said he was confident of reaching the second round.

“I can see things clearly. I am absolutely sure I'll be in the second round because there is a strong desire for change in our country and I am the only one proposing serious and reasonable change,” he remarked.

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