Jean-Luc Melenchon, candidate for the far-left coalition La France Insoumise, delivers a speech at a campaign rally in La Prairie des Filtres, Toulouse, France.
Jean-Luc Melenchon, candidate for the far-left coalition La France Insoumise, delivers a speech at a campaign rally in La Prairie des Filtres, Toulouse, France. Frederic Scheiber

Melenchon, Fillon bridge gap on top two in France election

JEAN-LUC Melenchon and Francois Fillon have closed the gap on the two leading candidates in the French presidential election, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, according to the latest polling.

The poll by Ipsos-Sopra Sterna predicts the centrist Macron would receive 22% in the first round, as would Front National leader Marine Le Pen.

Left-wing candidate Melenchon is on 20% and Mr Fillon trails just one point behind on 19%.

In a previous Ipsos France poll, Ms Le Pen and Mr Macron were on 25% in the first round, comfortably ahead of of Mr Fillon, in third place, who was expected to receive 17.5%.

Mr Melenchon, a hard-left candidate who supports a Universal Basic Income and has promised to withdraw France from NATO and the World Bank, has been enjoying a surge in popularity in recent weeks.

He has overtaken the Socialist Party's Benoit Hamon to become the leading left-wing candidate.

Meanwhile, Ms Le Pen's support has nosedived after the European Parliament accused the Front National of defrauding it to the tune of $480,000.

French voters will go the polls on April 23. Under the French system, if no presi- dential candidate gains more than half the vote, the top two candidates are pitted against each other in a second round of voting 14 days later.

This year, 11 candidates are standing for election, so a second round is virtually a certainty.

Taking into account undecided voters and allowing for a margin of error in polling results, it is impossible to say with certainty who of the front four will go head-to-head in the second round.

- Niamh McIntyre, The Independent



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