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French presidential hopefuls wrap up campaigns in tight race

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The populist Le Pen, a leading candidate, called for a "national insurrection, peaceful and democratic ... to give France back to its people".

The 48-year-old former lawyer has spent years trying to broaden support for her National Front party, but she has signalled a return to the core concerns of many of her supporters in recent speeches. And, as TRT World's Myriam Francois reports from Paris, Le Pen is promising just that.

They argue that a victory for Le Pen or Melenchon in the run-off would be likely to trigger a slump of up to 10 percent in French and European equities by the end of June.

Yesterday's Opinionway PresiTrack showed Macron at 23%, Le Pen at 22%, Fillon at 20% and Melenchon at 19%. The results from Sunday's vote will determine which two candidates will be included in the second round of voting on May 7.

With a persistent high terrorism risk in the country where a state of emergency has already been imposed, Interior Minister Matthias Fekl said 50,000 police, gendarmes and soldiers would be deployed during the election's two rounds. Convicted extremists with dual nationality would also be stripped of their French passports.

French voters go to the polls on Sunday for the first round of their most unpredictable presidential election in living memory.

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In the Marseille apartment of the two men arrested yesterday, police found an automatic rifle, two handguns, ammunition and three kilogrammes of explosives, French authorities said. Should a Le Pen victory transpire, therefore, the possibility of an exit from the European Union would imply that French banks would lose much access to capital, as well as experience a surge in funding costs. "It's a sort of moral red line", the newspaper said.

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.

On Tuesday night, she insisted that the TF1 television channel remove the blue-and-yellow European flag from behind her before an interview.

"Don't believe what they tell you: 'He wants to get out of Europe, of the euro,"' Melenchon, 65, told a meeting in Dijon on Tuesday, simultaneously appearing as a hologram in six other locations, including the distant island of Reunion.

The Communist-backed candidate has pledged to renegotiate some of the founding treaties of the bloc, however, which would cast serious doubt on the viability of the postwar project of integrating the continent. Nevertheless, Wednesday's Cevipof poll showed Fillon close behind the front-runners with 19.5 percent support. How could they halt the rising tide of nationalism across the Continent?

While missing out on the run-off would be certain to create a lot of soul-searching in the FN, experts say Le Pen's grip on the party remains strong despite tensions with her niece Marion Marechal-Le Pen.

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