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France's Le Pen hardens her tone in final straight

21 April 2017

Former President Barack Obama spoke on the phone Thursday with French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, hinting at his support just days ahead of French presidential voting Sunday.

Only the top two will advance to the run-off on May 7. "We saw (President Donald) Trump, we saw I'm mistrustful", he said.

Macron said Obama wanted to exchange views about the French presidential campaign and that the ex-president had stressed how important the relationship between the two countries was. "Are we going to be able to live as French for much longer when entire neighbourhoods are taken over by foreigners?" she said to wild applause and cheering.

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As of Tuesday, Mr Macron was running at 23 per cent and Ms Le Pen at 22.3 per cent, according to the Bloomberg composite of French polling.

The polls have four candidates - centrist Emmanuel Macron, conservative Francois Fillon and communist Jean-Luc Melenchon - neck and neck within the margin of error.

She assailed recent governments for failing to stop attacks and warned on BFM television earlier in the day; "We are all targets - all the French".

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Therefore, the two candidates with the highest share of the vote in round one proceed to a second round of voting. In the deadliest attack, IS gunmen and suicide bombers slaughtered 130 people in Paris in November 2015.

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 color, their origins or their religion, are fully involved in the future of their country".

“What is at stake in this election is the continuity of France as a free nation, our existence as a people, ” she said in February 2017.

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

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Moreover, the position of prime minister will be abolished and the president will be allowed to serve as a political party member. The "no" campaign said it faced intimidation and threats of violence, while opposition figures and journalists were jailed.

Asked if France should leave the European Union, he replied: "We change it or we leave it".