Independent French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron extended his lead in the polls over his far-right rival Marine Le Pen on Friday, the final day of campaigning in a tumultuous election race. Sunday's election is seen as the most important in France for decades, with two diametrically opposed views of Europe and France's place in the world at stake.
The National Front's Le Pen would close borders and quit the Euro currency, while independent Macron, who has never held elected office, wants closer European cooperation and an open economy.
The candidates of France's two mainstream parties, which have alternated in power for decades, were both eliminated in the first round of voting on April 23.
An Ifop-Fiducial survey on Friday afternoon, hours before official campaigning closed at midnight, showed Macron on course to win 63% of votes in the run-off and Le Pen 37%, the best score for Macron recorded by a major polling organization since mid-April.
Four other polls earlier in the day had Macron with 62% and Le Pen 38%, and a fifth showed Macron on 61.5%, as his second-round campaign gained ground.
Pollsters said Macron had been boosted by his performance in a rancorous final televised debate between the two contenders on Wednesday, which the independent was judged by French viewers to have won, according to two surveys.
Macron's strong showing in the debate, and another poll this week showing his En Marche! (Onwards!) movement likely to emerge as the biggest party in June legislative elections, have lifted the mood among investors worried about the upheaval a Le Pen victory could cause.
The gap between French and German 10-year government borrowing costs hit a new six-month low on Friday. European shares eased after a week of gains that were partly driven by easing political worries in France.
Paris's police chief called emergency talks on security before the election after Greenpeace activists scaled the Eiffel Tower on Friday and unfurled a political banner. Security is a key election issue after attacks by militant Islamists killed more than 230 people in the past two years.
A poll on Friday by Odoxa said a quarter of the French electorate was likely to abstain in Sunday's vote, many of them left-wing voters disappointed after their candidates missed reaching the runoff. The projected abstention rate would be the second-highest for a presidential election runoff since 1965, underscoring the disillusionment of many voters at the choice they now face. The turnout for the first round of the election was close to 78%.
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Another election, another round of hacks and email leaks. Spread by American 'alt-right'/neo-Nazis this time and then picked up by Wikileaks.May 06th, 2017 - 08:55 pm +1
Again, they appear designed to help a far-right candidate who favours Putin; what a surprise!
The French people have more sense than the majority of the British. They did not allow the discontented to be nurtured into something more sinister.May 07th, 2017 - 07:17 pm +1
Vive la France.May 08th, 2017 - 03:45 am 0