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

French presidential hopefuls battle for votes with a week to go

A week before France's high-stakes presidential election, the four top candidates began a final push yesterday to woo undecided voters who will determine the outcome of the tight race between the hard left, centre, right and far right. My opponents from all sides have tried only one thing: "to finish me off rather than debate", Mr Fillon told the crowd.

Citing Brexit and the results of the US election, Sunday's episode of Last Week Tonight saw the HBO host delve into the upcoming French election as he profiled each of the candidates running for office, with a special focus on Marine Le Pen, the head of the far-right National Front, whose campaign rhetoric has sounded not unlike Donald Trump.

But Le Pen's supporters dismissed her opponent and his ideas.

(AP Photo/Francois Mori) FILE - In this Feb.5, 2017 file photo, French far-right leader presidential candidate Marine Le Pen acknowledges applause in Lyon, central France.

But commentators are concerned that Le Pen could pose a strong challenge to the other three. French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen are hoping to bring. "I don't think religious should tell the French people how to vote".

Le Pen kicked her father out of the party and has worked to "rehabilitate" the image of the National Front party, and Oliver showed a clip of one voter who said he was more likely to support the party because her father was no longer part of it. The two leaders of the first round will go through to a runoff on May 7.

Around 80 percent of French citizens typically vote inpresidential elections, but some are forecasting that close to a third of the country could abstain from this particular election out of frustration over the unpopular roster of candidates.

Benoît Hamon, of the mainstream left-wing Socialist Party, who has dropped to single digits in the polls. "However, I admit that I am angry with the Church because I think that it interferes in everything except what it should really be concerned with", said Le Pen.

Melenchon s spurt has shaken up the race, with many hesitating between voting with their hearts and a tactical vote for whichever candidate is given the best chance of barring him or Le Pen - both of whom are threatening to quit the euro.

Macron was seen beating Le Pen in the May 6 runoff vote 64 percent to 36, providing both make it to the decisive second round.

Mélenchon and Le Pen have said they would consider a "Brexit"-like departure from the EU".

An aide to Macron said he would use Monday's event to hit back at Le Pen's accusation he is soft on Islamists. Unfortunately for Fillon, Googling his name mostly yields stories related to various scandals, like how he was accused of paying his wife and child public money for doing little to no work, or that he was bribed with an expensive suit.

Mr Macron, a former investment banker, is running for his self-created En Marche (Onwards) party.

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