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Macron meets member of Fillon’s party, sets tongues wagging

Emmanuel Macron speaks during a campaign rally in Marseille on April 1.
Emmanuel Macron speaks during a campaign rally in Marseille on April 1. Philippe Laurenson/REUTERS

French Presidential election frontrunner Emmanuel Macron set political analysts' tongues wagging following his talks with a high-profile member of Les Republicains party, Christian Estrosi, who is the president of the regional council of Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur.


Estrosi had called on his party candidate François Fillon to quit his campaign for president in the wake of the ‘fake jobs’ scandal and voiced his “respect” and “friendship” for Macron.

The surprise meeting comes in the wake of the 39-year-old receiving high-profile backing in the shape of former Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

The Socialist candidate, Benoit Hamon, reacted by saying that the campaign had been “marred by dishonesty” while far-right leader Marine Le Pen in described the Estrosi-Macron friendship as an “alliance,” saying those in the mainstream “system” were trying to save their jobs.

Meanwhile; Macron addressed around 5,000 supporters in Marseille and did not waste the opportunity to criticise Le Pen.

“I see Armenians, Italians, Algerians, Moroccans, Tunisians, Malians, Senegalese, Ivorians. And several other nationalities I haven't mentioned,” said Macron.

“But what am I seeing? The people of Marseille. What am I seeing? I see French people. French. People. Because they are proud. Proud to be French,” he exclaimed.

“Take a close look, people from the (far-right) National Front. That's what it means to be proud to be French.”

Macron described himself as a “patriot”, a defender of a “strong France, open to Europe and the world.”

On the other hand, Fillon, who has seen his poll ratings plummet since the highly publicised “fake jobs” scandal, criticised Macron during a rally in Corsica.

“Macron pretends to be a dissident ... he pretends to be a candidate who brings together all the French people... from former Communists to the ultra liberals.”

“A section" of the French people "might be taken in by this con act (of Macron) -- until the mask falls," said Fillon.

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