Le Pen blasts 'campaigning hysterically' media as Macron jumps in French polls


Paris: With the polls narrowing and one of her main rivals embroiled in an expenses scandal, far-right leader Marine Le Pen could feasibly become French President in May, senior politicians and commentators say.

Two polls published on Sunday gave Macron the support of 25 percent of the French electorate going into the first round of the presidential election, two points behind Le Pen. Before these fresh investigations began, Fran├žois Fillon was given 20% support according to a Kantar Sofres poll and 19% in a similar Oxoda Dentsu survey. Both are accused of misusing public money by using fake parliamentary aides, while Le Pen faces a separate investigation into the funding of election campaigns in 2014 and 2015.

Polls now show independent centrist Emmanuel Macron as the most likely victor, though analysts caution against any firm forecasts after a rollercoaster campaign and the surprises of Brexit and Trump in 2016.

Ms Le Pen promised to tighten immigration, push for a stronger role of the state in business, and introduce a seven-year non-renewable presidential mandate to replace the current five-year mandate.

"But if it's 55-45, it could be a different matter", he said, adding that her performance in the first round would be crucial if she is to gain enough momentum to snatch a win in the second round.

Le Pen has said the allegations are politically motivated.

His party's candidate, Benoit Hamon, is not expected to get through the first round of the election.

Le Pen went ahead with the rally and delivered a typical speech laced with criticism of France's political elite, globalization, the European Union - and Macron.

The spokesman said there was no firm date yet but the expectation is that Merkel and Macron will meet in March.

Fillon has denied wrongdoing, insisting that the jobs were real.

Chatillon has already been charged with illegal campaign financing in 2012 presidential and legislative elections through his media company Riwal.

French prosecutors extended the probe of Fillon, saying further investigation is needed and pushing any conclusion until after the election.

"We are seeing a sudden rush in the procedure which relates to an old complaint", Bosselut said in a telephone interview.