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France's Fillon cancels Friday election campaign event after Paris shooting

21 Avril 2017

The poll found that Macron was set to win 24 percent of the vote in the first round and Le Pen would get 21.5 percent, with his score steady from a poll conducted three days earlier, while hers was down 1.5 percentage points.

(Christian Hartmann/Pool photo via AP).

Le Pen has claimed that her proposals such as expelling any foreigner convicted of a crime or suspected of being radicalized would have helped prevent some of the attacks since 2015 which have claimed more than 200 lives.

France votes on Sunday in the first round of its two-stage election.

But with options markets suggesting investors are extremely concerned about the chances of strong results for far-right and far-left candidates Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Melenchon, the euro fell 0.2 percent against the dollar in morning trade in Europe.

Security, which Le Pen links closely to immigration, was threatening to once again become a campaign issue on Tuesday after two men were arrested in Marseille, in southern France, on suspicion of planning an attack during the voting.

Le Pen's stance on immigration mainly competes with that of former prime minister Fillon, who despite being plagued by a financial scandal is slowly recovering in the polls, and has also targeted far-right voters.

Like Donald Trump in the United States, anti-establishment French populists Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Melenchon hope for an electoral electro-shock by surfing to power on voter disgust with politics as usual.

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The 63-year-old candidate for the conservative Republicans party was the early leader in a race that had been seen as a walkover for the right after five years of troubled Socialist rule. However, she has recently lost the leader's edge in polls.

Hamon won the Socialist primary but the party is deeply divided, and Socialist President Francois Hollande is so unpopular that he's not seeking a second term.

Centrist Emmanuel Macron, who launched his own "En Marche" ("Forward" or "On the Move") political group, was still leading in the most recent Cevipof opinion poll published on Wednesday, with 23 percent support for the first round. Some Muslims feel unfairly targeted by French laws banning headscarves in schools and full-face veils in public.

The threat of Islamist extremism after two years of attacks that have killed more than 230 people, and with police thwarting what the government said was another planned attack this week, means the vote is being held under heightened security, with more than 50,000 police and soldiers mobilised for Sunday.

Reacting to Le Pen's refusal to appear on France's TF1 television channel on Tuesday unless the EU's yellow-starred blue flag was removed, the Commission tweeted: "Proud of our flag, a symbol of unity, solidarity and harmony between the people of Europe".

She said if she's elected, she'll invite Pope Francis to France "with great pleasure" and "will tell him exactly what I have just told you".

Accusing the European Union of taking away France's sovereignty and hurting its economy, she wants to pull France out of the European Union and the euro - which would devastate the bloc and badly disrupt financial markets.

France's Fillon cancels Friday election campaign event after Paris shooting