More cracks emerge in Fillon campaign as French rivals push ahead

With a financial scandal plaguing conservative candidate Francois Fillon, Macron, a former investment banker running as an independent centrist, is favored to win the unpredictable race in a May runoff against far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is no longer immune from prosecution related to a series of graphic social media posts and now could be charged.

It is unclear whether prosecutors will take legal action against Le Pen before this year's presidential elections, which are held in two rounds in April and May.

Polls now show however that the leader National Front (FN) chief will be beaten in the second round by either the fast-rising Macron or the conservative candidate. (On the March) party.

Investigators have considered prosecuting Le Pen for the publication of violent images, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of €75,000 ($78,836) under French law.

Polls now show, however, that Le Pen will be beaten in the runoff by either the fast-rising Macron or the conservative candidate.

France would default on its sovereign debt if it unilaterally converted its euro-denominated obligations into new francs following a National Front election victory, Moritz Kraemer, S&P's head of sovereign ratings recently wrote.

For months, the question had not been who would qualify for the second round, but who would face Le Pen, with the assumption that whoever would be her opponent would become the new president. In this way she tried to draw the public's attention to the cruelty of extremists. "It's the presidential election", he said, flanked by senior party members, after a morning of speculation he was about to quit the race.

Le Pen, 48, leads the pack as she has consistently since mid-January with 27 percent.

In an online video message urging supporters to attend, he said only he could "restore France's strength".

Fillon used language in the video normally employed by Le Pen and her anti-immigration party, from "national sovereignty" to "vanquishing Islamic totalitarianism".

Le Pen is already under scrutiny over allegations that members of her staff were paid for nonexistent jobs at the EU Parliament.

On Thursday, high-flying centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron unveiled his policy program in an attempt to answer critics who say the 39-year-old former economy minister is all image and little substance.

This week, Mr Fillon announced that he will be summoned for questioning over the allegations known as "Penelopegate" in the next couple of weeks.

With just 52 days left before French voters choose their president, the man leading polls is only now releasing his campaign platform.

At a defiant press conference on Wednesday, Fillon vowed that he could prove his innocence, saying: "I won't give in, I won't surrender and I won't withdraw".

Juppe would have 26.5 per cent of votes, narrowly ahead of Macron on 25 per cent, while Le Pen would slip to third place on 24 per cent, according to the Odoxa-Dentsu Consulting survey of 943 people.

  • Tracy Ferguson