French presidential hopefuls wrap up campaigns in tight race


"The security forces are mobilized everywhere across France to ensure the security of French people and to ensure the presidential campaign goes smoothly", he said on Tuesday.

April 23 marks the first round of voting in the French election.

The contest has become a four-way race between candidates from across the political spectrum.

In France, the presidential election happens in two phases. Thus, predicting the likely impact of the election result seems virtually impossible at this stage. Added to this, Macron's supporters tend to waver the most.

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Opponents of Le Pen and her anti-immigration National Front party also skirmished with police outside a Paris rally this week.

Also Wednesday, the Grand Mosque of Lyon issued an appeal urging Muslims to cast ballots instead of isolating themselves, "so that all the children of France, regardless of their skin colour, their origins or their religion, are fully involved in the future of their country". She wants to renegotiate France's position with the European Union at the very least, and intends to hold referendums to decide the nation's European Union membership as well as its continued adoption of the euro.

Fillon, 63, an ex-prime minister whose campaign was derailed by an embezzlement inquiry targeting him, his wife and two of his children, got last-minute public endorsements from ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy and ex-prime minister Alain Juppe - two men he beat to win the presidential ticket of his party, The Republicans.

Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon promised that if he won France's presidency he would give asylum to Edward Snowden, the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor who has taken refuge in Moscow since revealing details of secret U.S. government eavesdropping programs in 2013.

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Therefore, the candidates' positions on Europe underline the concern many now have for the continued survival of the EU.

Since taking the helm in 2011, Ms Le Pen, 48, has sought to rid the party of the anti-Semitic image it acquired under the almost 40-year leadership of her father Jean-Marie Le Pen.

A feel-good Paris concert, a meeting with Muslim leaders and a blowout rally in Marseille - France's presidential candidates are blanketing the country Wednesday with campaign events to try to inspire undecided voters just four days before a nail-biting election. The eradication of the Far Left and the Far Right candidates in the first round would likely see a collective sigh of relief that it is politics as usual in France.

Reports suggest a statement was written to the studio which said the European Union "did great harm" to France and its citizens.

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The abstention rate was in line with a record level in the 2002 election, where the then National Front leader, Le Pen's father Jean-Marie Le Pen, made it to the run-off before he was beaten by conservative Jacques Chirac.