PARIS: Hard-left presidential challenger Jean-Luc Melenchon and conservative Francois Fillon were neck-and-neck behind the frontrunners in an opinion poll on Thursday, as candidates made last-ditch appeals to undecided voters.
Pollsters forecast the most likely outcome of the first round is that centrist Emmanuel Macron will go head-to-head against far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the May 7 second round. But the race to succeed the deeply unpopular socialist President Francois Hollande has tightened in recent weeks.
That put the two men only three percentage points behind Le Pen on 22 per cent and trailing Macron, who consolidated his status as the frontrunner on 25 per cent.
Fillon’s ratings have gradually recovered after his campaign hit the rocks following nepotism allegations. Seizing on a foiled attack this week in which he and other candidates were seen as potential targets, the 63-year-old former prime minister sought to reinforce his credentials as a tough pair of hands on security. “In the fight against militant Islam, like on everything else, Emmanuel Macron stance’s is blurry,” Fillon told Le Figaro newspaper.
Melenchon, meanwhile, in an interview with BFM TV, pressed his criticism of European Union institutions a stance that has increasingly worried investors as his support has grown.
Courtesy : Dawn News