French presidential race tightens further as vote looms in 9 days

Kristopher Drake
April 14, 2017

The police source said the ground floor of the central Paris building was targeted and graffiti mentioning Le Pen's National Front was found nearby.

Melenchon's sharp-tongued wit during the two presidential debates have boosted his standing.

A strong performance by a candidate who wants a referendum on France's membership of the European Union could unnerve financial markets, anxious by the prospect of another upset after Britons voted to leave the EU previous year.

The anti-globalisation and anti-EU candidate is neck-and-neck with centrist Emmanuel Macron in polls for the first round of the election on April 23. The consultation took place on April 12 till 13 via the Internet with the participation of 1001 people, of whom 938 plan to vote.

Although Le Pen is still consistently seen by pollsters as making the second-round runoff on May 7, she has lost some support in the last few weeks, falling from a high of 27 percent in February to 23.5 percent most recently in a daily Ifop poll of voting intentions for the first round.

Traders cited the French election, as well as US relations with Syria and North Korea, as reasons why investors switched to safe assets, such as gold or US Treasuries, on Wednesday.

If the polls are to be believed, France is heading towards the election of a leader who hails from neither the traditional left nor right for the first time since the Fifth Republic was founded in 1958.

While clearly enjoying the attention, Melenchon is also playing it down.

Le Pen argues that European Parliament investigators are singling her out because of her anti-EU views.

"We need a pro-European France", German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in Berlin. Le Pen, Andelman claims, "seems largely immune to every scandal", and compared her to President Trump saying she is "rather like someone else who was declared out of the race more than once". They "quickly brought the fire under control", police told AFP, adding that the damage to the property-a smashed window and broken door-was "likely" to be the result of "a criminal act".

Hollande, who has been France's president since 2012, said he did not stand as a candidate because he felt he would not get his party's backing.

The message "FN vs KLX" was painted on the façade - FN being a reference to Front National and KLX to a group calling itself Combattre la Xénophobie (fight xenophobia), which claimed responsibility for the attack and warned of...

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