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FRANCE

Le Pen targets Mélenchon voters, Macron 'not complacent' over presidential runoff

Meet the people - One of Emmanuel Macron's buttons gets caught on a girl's hair on a visit to a hospital near Paris on Tuesday
Meet the people - One of Emmanuel Macron's buttons gets caught on a girl's hair on a visit to a hospital near Paris on Tuesday Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

With the 7 May deciding round in France's presidential election fast approaching, both candidates laid out their stalls in television interviews on Tuesday. The far right's Marine Le Pen tried to win over voters who backed the hard left's Jean-Luc Mélenchon, while Emmanuel Macron admitted that victory was not yet in the bag.

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Macron, whose Sunday night dinner with 140 supporters at a swish Paris has raised eyebrows, has been accused of celebrating too soon and on Tuesday afternoon President François Hollande warned against complacency over the possibility of far-right win.

"I think we need to be extremely serious and mobilised and to not think it's a done deal because a vote is earned, it's fought for," he told reporters.

On television that evening Macron rejected accusations that he is resting on his laurels, insisting "nothing's won yet".

His own lead in the first round was proof that pollsters, who placed him second to Le Pen up to the last minute, can "get it wrong".

He may hope that is true of an opinion poll published Wednesday, which found 61 percent of French voters think Le Pen has got her second-round campaign off to a good start, compared to 52 percent for Macron.

Macron, who has received the backing of a number of MPs from the mainstream right Republicans and the ruling Socialists, warned that anyone hoping for the endorsement of his En March ! (Let's Go!) movement in the parliamentary election that will follow the presidential one must leave their party.

Le Pen appeals to Mélenchon voters

Le Pen, who on Monday temporarily stepped down as president of the National Front (FN) so as to present herself as representing more than just her party, told the TV interviewer she had done so because the presidential election is a personal encounter between a candidate and the French people.

With Jean-Luc Mélenchon so far refraining from advising his voters to back Macron against her, she asked them whether they could vote for a candidate who "has announced that he will wage a social war" and "aims to pitch one community against another, one company against another".

Macron has nothing to offer but increased globalisation and more power to European institutions and oligarchs, she said, claiming that he never put a foot outside France's major cities while she had been on the road,listening to the average French man and woman.

The two interviews were separate but the pair will face each other in a head-to-head debate on 3 May.

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