Tie-up with veteran politician lifts Macron's hopes in French presidential race | Reuters

By Brian Love and Michel Rose | PARIS PARIS France's presidential race took a new turn on Thursday as opinion polls began to show centrist Emmanuel Macron benefiting from an alliance with a veteran politician that could help him beat the far-right's Marine Le Pen and win power at the age of 39.Macron, a fresh-faced ex-investment banker who has never held elected office, met his new ally, centrist Francois Bayrou, on Thursday a day after they struck an electoral pact.Bayrou, 65, has run for president three times, but said on Wednesday night he would back Macron rather than enter the race again himself.After the meeting, Macron, standing alongside Bayrou, told reporters he stood between France and a Le Pen regime of 'fear'.'Political times have changed. We cannot continue as before

Reuters February 24, 2017 00:47:35 IST
Tie-up with veteran politician lifts Macron's hopes in French presidential race
| Reuters

Tieup with veteran politician lifts Macrons hopes in French presidential race
 Reuters

By Brian Love and Michel Rose
| PARIS

PARIS France's presidential race took a new turn on Thursday as opinion polls began to show centrist Emmanuel Macron benefiting from an alliance with a veteran politician that could help him beat the far-right's Marine Le Pen and win power at the age of 39.Macron, a fresh-faced ex-investment banker who has never held elected office, met his new ally, centrist Francois Bayrou, on Thursday a day after they struck an electoral pact.Bayrou, 65, has run for president three times, but said on Wednesday night he would back Macron rather than enter the race again himself.After the meeting, Macron, standing alongside Bayrou, told reporters he stood between France and a Le Pen regime of "fear"."Political times have changed. We cannot continue as before. The National Front is at the gates of power," he said.Two new opinion polls released as they met showed Macron neck-and-neck with mainstream right-winger Francois Fillon.A third poll, collected by Ifop Fiducial over the past three days and so including some reaction to Wednesday night's tie-up with Bayrou, showed Macron's first round score boosted by 3.5 points to 22.5 percent, ahead of Fillon on 20.5.

All the polls continued to show Le Pen winning round one of the election on April 23 but losing a May 7 runoff against either man.One showed Le Pen losing to Fillon by a relatively tight margin of just 45 percent to 55, but others showed the margin wider for both men.

SCANDALS
The campaigns of both Le Pen, leader of the anti-euro, anti-immigrant National Front, and of Fillon, a former prime minister, have been shaken by investigations into allegations that they misused public money. Both have denied wrongdoing.Fillon, 62, was once the election frontrunner but is now engulfed in a scandal over salaries paid to his wife and children out of public funds for work they are alleged to have not carried out. He says they did the work for which they were paid.Le Pen is facing accusations she paid her chief of staff and bodyguard illicitly from European Parliament funds that she is now being pressed by the assembly to repay.

Macron could benefit from his cleaner image as well as from Bayrou's endorsement, which has cheered investors nervous about France's economic prospects under Le Pen, who wants to return to a national currency and ask voters if, like the British, they want to quit the European Union.Polls have suggested that Bayrou has the support of about five percent of French voters, and his backing for Macron could prove crucial in pushing the centrist into the runoff."These developments would appear to reinforce our view that Macron looks most likely to win the presidential election," said JP Morgan economist Raphael Brun-Aguerre.Macron served under Socialist President Francois Hollande as economy minister, deregulating Sunday trading and coach bus transport. He says he wants to transcend the left-right divide in French politics. (Additional reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Andrew Callus and Richard Balmforth)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.