Violent clashes break out ahead of rally by far-right Le Pen

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 09.04.2017 19:20
Updated 09.04.2017 19:24

Violent clashes broke out both inside and outside a venue in the Corsican city of Ajaccio that was supposed to hold a rally by French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen.

According to French television BFM TV, Corsican nationalists arrived at Le Pen's rally on Saturday and clashed with her far-right supporters before being evacuated by security. The disturbance delayed the start of Le Pen's program by an hour after it was moved to another venue.

David Rachline, Le Pen's campaign manager, later tweeted that a separate group had clashed with police outside the venue. He was critical of the security arrangements.

The latest poll published late on Saturday confirmed shifting momentum seen earlier this week following a second and final televised debate between the 11 candidates vying to be France's next leader.

Le Pen is among the leading contenders in France's two-round presidential vote. The top two-vote getters on April 23 will go into a presidential runoff on May 7.

French presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron detailed his priorities yesterday for his first few months in office if elected, as polls showed the unpredictable race tightening just two weeks before voting.

Macron, 39, told the Journal de Dimanche newspaper one of his first measures would be to pass a law setting new ethical standards for parliament, followed by related legislation that will cut the number of MPs by a third.

He also foresees a visit to Berlin and a tour of European capitals to drum up support for his plan to deepen economic integration in the eurozone, create a European border force and put in place greater protections for European industry.

Le Pen and Macron -- dubbed the "fragile favorite" by the Journal de Dimanche -- are neck-and neck but both have lost ground slightly and would win 23 percent if the vote were held today.

This would mean they both qualified for the second round run-off scheduled on May 7 which Macron is seen winning comfortably. But behind them, Communist-backed firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon continues to surge after strong performances during the debates when he repeatedly tackled Le Pen over her hardline views on immigration and Islam.

The often witty left-winger, an admirer of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and staunch critic of the European Union, is seen winning 19 percent of votes, up four points over a week, which puts him at the same level of support as Fillon. The survey of 1,421 people was carried out online at the end of last week by the BVA Salesforce polling group.

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