Macron, Le Pen trade accusations in French election race

Euro jumps Asian shares rally on French election relief

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Emmanuel Macron (C), head of the political movement En Marche!, or Onwards!, and candidate for the 2017 French presidential election, walks next to a man in a wheelchair during a visit to the Hospital Raymond-Poincare in Garches, near Paris, France, April 25, 2017.

Workers whistled and jostled with Macron's security guards while a burning tire threw a cloud of black smoke across the site when the former economy minister visited the tumble-drier factory in his hometown of Amiens.

The contrasting images of Ms Le Pen smiling with workers while Mr Macron engaged in heated exchanges with them could prove damaging to his presidential campaign.

Marine Le Pen is stepping aside as the leader of France's National Front.

Though the two candidates ran neck and neck in the first round of 11 candidates, Macron is expected to trounce Le Pen by some 20 percentage points in the May 7 vote.

After arriving, he told angry workers that the only reason that the anti-EU Le Pen had come was "because I'm here".

"Slaughter without stunning, I'm sorry, it should have special labels", Le Pen said.

With 7.5 million votes, Ms.

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Abandoning the National Front is likely a desperate attempt by Le Pen to break with the party's extremist past, which stands between her and anti-globalist French voters who aren't xenophobic.

Political analysts have contrasted Macron's actions and those of ex-president Jacques Chirac in 2002 when Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine's father who founded her National Front party, shocked the establishment by reaching the second round.

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. "Patriots should come together to fight those who promote unbridled globalisation", she said. According to him, his daughter was "too laid-back" and needed to behave more aggressive "like Trump".

Le Pen has called on French Jews to make these "sacrifices" to curb radical Islam and has promised to be French Jewry's "shield" against Islam.

Her programme calls for sharp curbs on immigration and on the rights of immigrants living in France, as well as the expulsion of foreigners under suspicion of having militant Islamist links. On Monday, polls in France showed about 60 percent of voters supported Macron, compared to less than 40 percent for Le Pen.

Europe's stock markets soared on Monday on the news that Macron was out in front in the French presidential race.

Speaking to 20 Minuten, SVP MP Roland Rino B├╝chel said Le Pen was actually a left-winger who favoured state control, and that her policies were "not enough to bring France back on track".

Le Pen needs Melenchon voters to spend election day away from the ballot box and "go fishing", one of her aides conceded to AFP on condition of anonymity, seeing it as one of two conditions crucial for her victory.

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