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Friday, May 5, 2017

If Polls Are Right Macron Will Have Major Victory. We Hope It Is Not A Blow Out

Macron stretches lead as

 French presidential 

campaign enters final day

by Reuters
Friday, 5 May 2017 12:41 GMT
* Four polls say Macron leads Le Pen 
62 pct-38 pct
* Score is Macron's best since before 
first round
* Le Pen says her goal is to win
* Separate poll puts abstention rate at 
a quarter of voters (Adds market context, 
Le Pen quote)
By Mathieu Rosemain and Andrew Callus
PARIS, May 5 (Reuters) - Centrist 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 a tumultuous election
 campaign that has turned the country's 
politics upside down.
The 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 were both eliminated in the first
 round on April 23.
Four new polls showed Macron on track
 to win 62 percent of the votes in the second
 round compared to 38 percent for Le Pen,
 his best score in a voting survey by a 
major polling organisation since nine
 other candidates were eliminated in the
 first round on April 23. A fifth poll 
showed him on 61.5 percent.
Pollsters said Macron had been boosted
 by his performance in a rancorous final 
televised debate between the two contenders 
on Wednesday, which the centrist 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 
 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.
"Despite that almost nobody expects a 
surprise, meaning Macron is the 
overwhelming favourite to win and 
become the new French president, 
traders seem to favour (taking) a bit 
of money off the table," said City of 
London Markets trader Markus Huber.
Le Pen was booed by several dozen
 protesters, including some holding
 Macron posters, as she visited the
 cathedral in Reims, northern France,
 where French kings were crowned in 
the Middle Ages.
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.
Separately, police arrested a man 
suspected of having radical Islamist
 beliefs near an air base at Evreux, western
 France, during the night after spotting a
 suspicious vehicle, police and judicial 
sources said. Counter-terrorism prosecutors 
were investigating.
Security is a key election issue after attacks 
by militant Islamists killed more than 230 
people in the past two years.
Macron was already looking ahead to being
 in power, telling RTL radio he had decided 
who would be his prime minister if he wins.
 He did not reveal a name, saying he would
only announce the make-up of his
 government after he took office.
The anti-immigration, anti-EU Le Pen 
was not giving up.
"My goal is to win this presidential 
election," she said on RTL radio.
 "I think that we can win."
Le Pen was criticised by some pundits 
for her aggressive approach to Wednesday's
 presidential debate, seeing this as a 
setback to her attempts to rid the party
of the fringe, extremist image it acquired
 under the nearly 40-year leadership of her
 father, Jean-Marie.
Defending her forceful stance, Le Pen
 told RTL: "My words are only the echo 
of the social violence that is going to 
explode in this country.
"People talk about my aggressiveness,
 but the terrible aggressiveness is that of
 Mr. Macron's plan ... which is a plan for 
social deconstruction and deregulation," 
she said.
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 percent.
A poll on Friday showed French voters to
 be among the most polarised in the 
European Union, with one in five
 describing themselves as "extreme" and only
 about a third as "centrist".
The survey from the Bertelsmann Foundation
 also showed an unusually high level of 
dissatisfaction in France with the 
direction of the country, underscoring
the challenge that a new president will face.
(Additional reporting by Adrian Croft
in Paris, Danilo Masoni in Milan and 
Abhinav Ramnarayan in London; Editing 
by Andrew Roche)