Macron's lead in French election polls shrinks

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Far-right leader Marine Le Pen came in fourth behind conservative Francois Fillon, with 11 % and 15 % respectively. It featured all 11 candidates for the race - nine men, two women seated in a semi-circle facing the journalists for nearly 4 hours.

The others are Jacques Cheminade, who rails against the "domination" of global finance; the New Anti-Capitalist Party's Philippe Poutou; Nathalie Arthaud of the Workers Party; Francois Asselineau, who wants to quit the euro and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation; and Jean Lassalle, a self-styled "farmer-politician" without political affiliation.

Her main rival now is Macron, a former economy minister, who pledges to modernise the French economy.

Investors are concerned the wave of frustration with political elites behind Britain's vote to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump in the United States could sweep Le Pen into power in France.

Macron then retorted: "Sorry to tell you this, Madame Le Pen, but you are saying the same lies that we've heard from your father for forty years".

According to Le Pen, investors "are anxious because they know they will no longer be able to make the profits they made previously".

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"I don't want this directive, even if we respect the law", she said.

"I would simply vote "No" in the referendum", said Schmitt, who said he was still undecided about the presidential vote but thinks Le Pen has "a lot of good ideas".

Today, by many accounts, despite expectations that the globalist Macron will ultimately prevail in the second round of voting, there are signs that Le Pen's draw among French voters is spreading.

He faces charges in the case, and has denied any wrongdoing.

In the latest move as part of a wider rebrand, the New York Times is reporting Le Pen has positioned her party to be a champion for Jews in France.

Rachline said the investigation bore the hallmark of "a political attack".

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He said "I am entitled to the presumption of innocence" he said.

In a separate action involving the National Front, French judicial police in February questioned her bodyguard and chief of staff in relation to a probe into alleged misuse of European Union funds to pat parliamentary assistants.

"I didn't acknowledge errors".

Conservative candidate Francois Fillon, battered by allegations that he gave his wife and two children government-funded jobs which they never did, is struggling to survive in the race. "The French will make a judgment in a little less than three weeks".

Writing in Le Monde before the debate, Michel Noblecourt, noted that President Francois Hollande - who decided in December not to seek re-election - warned that the "dangerous" innovation in French politics risked "a race to the bottom".

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He added: "I know absolutely nothing about Clacton apart from it's one of the most Euro-sceptic places in the country". Many thought Farage would win the seat in the 2015 election, but he lost to Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay.

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