Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

EU in focus as French presidential candidates face off

EU in focus as French presidential candidates face off

Several other presidential candidates made public statements in response to theChamps Elysees shooting.

Fillon and Melenchon were tied at around 19%, after a late spurt that has put them within striking distance of the frontrunners.

A man walks past French presidential campaign posters displayed in Marnes-la-Coquette, outside Paris, Thursday, April 20, 2017.

His remarks were followed by an extraordinary attack from Bernard Cazeneuve, the Socialist prime minister, on the far-Right candidate, who accused Ms Le Pen of "shameless seeking to exploit fear and emotion to exclusively political ends". Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron are am.

The shooting comes three days before French General Elections and Paris was already in a state of heightened alert.

Voters will cast their ballots on Sunday in the first round of what has transformed into the most unpredictable French election in living memory, with four candidates within reach of the two places in a run-off a fortnight later.

Trump was a supporter of the British decision to exit the European Union and has stated his preference for one-on-one trade and defense agreements with US allies.

France has seen the rise of populism in recent years.

The months-long French campaign only seemed to grow weirder and more uncertain as polling day approached.

Francois Fillon won the leadership race, but his campaign became quickly mired in scandal after allegations surfaced earlier this year that he paid his family members hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for jobs they never worked.

The shooting has not officially been declared a terrorist act but anti-terrorist forces are leading the investigation, French President Hollande said. When it was over, a police officer was dead and a second was wounded.

The first round of voting is Sunday in the closely watched race.

"It's complicated", real estate agent Felix Lenglin said during his lunch-time break in a Paris park. "We have to stop being naive".

Whoever wins will have the power to push France in a drastic new political direction, and could radically alter the nation's relationship with the EU.

A poll done for France24 suggested nearly half of French voters want the country to hold a referendum on membership of the bloc.

Le Pen has said herself the European Union will die "because the people do not want it anymore". Only the two top-getters will advance to the runoff on May 7.

Le Pen's main rival Emmanuel Macron came a distant second with 16.5 per cent of the Gendarmerie vote.

"The presidential costume is a bit big for him", said Paul Rousselier, a Paris banker who plans to vote for the 39-year-old anyway. "There's North Korea, Turkey, the thwarted (terror) attack - all things that could tip the vote".

Macron is running as an independent in what's being described as one of the most uncertain elections in French history.

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