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20 April 2017, 07:23 | Kelvin Horton
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Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen held onto their lead as the frontrunners to narrowly beat other candidates in the first round of the presidential election, a Cevipof poll for Le Monde newspaper showed on Wednesday.
Elite police officers arrive during searches in Marseille, southern France, April 18, 2017. Police set off tear gas to disperse them.
Another poll, a daily survey by Opinionway, gave similar projections to Cevipof for the top candidates and projected Macron beating Le Pen in the May 7 second round by 65 percent to 35.
Le Pen dropped by 2.5 percentage points to 22.5 percent of voting intentions since early April, and Macron fell 2 percentage points to 23 percent in the first round.
Le Pen, the anti-immigration and anti-EU candidate, used her final appearances to highlight a nationalist agenda in which "the essentials" are security, illegal immigration and the French identity, which she says is being lost as Islamists try to usurp French civilization and multiply the threat of terrorism.
French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron says the French state and the Muslim community are fighting on a "common front" against Islamic extremism.
Mr Macron met with the head of leading French Muslim group CFCM, Anouar Kbibech.
Also Wednesday, the Grand Mosque of Lyon issued an appeal urging Muslims to cast ballots instead of isolating themselves, "so that all the children of France, regardless of their skin color, their origins or their religion, are fully involved in the future of their country". Hamon is polling a distant fifth place ahead of Sunday's first-round election and has little chance of reaching the decisive May 7 runoff - a failure that could crush his party. He pledges a universal income, tax on robots and legal cannabis.
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.
With four days until Sunday's first round of the presidential election, candidates blanketed the country ahead of the nail-biting election.
She assailed recent governments for failing to stop attacks and warned on BFM television earlier in the day; "We are all targets - all the French".
However, security and tackling the threat posed by Islamist militants has returned to the fore after the arrest of two men in Marseille on Tuesday suspected of plotting an imminent attack.
The EU executive was referring to Le Pen's demand on Tuesday night that French TV station remove the blue, yellow-starred EU flag from the stage where she would be interviewed, leaving just the French blue-white-and-red flag.
"I consider that the European Union has undermined France's sovereignty, infringes our economy and prevent us from protecting ourselves", Le Pen said in the air of the BFMTV broadcaster, adding that she would be able "to do many things" with France's annual contribution of $9.6 billion to the EU budget.
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