Published: Sat, February 25, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

France's Macron takes on critics over 'vague' programme

France's Macron takes on critics over 'vague' programme

The chief of staff of French far-right leader Marine Le Pen was put under formal investigation Wednesday after a day of questioning over alleged misuse of European Union funds to pay parliamentary assistants.

Olaf, the European Union anti-fraud agency, said in a report that Le Pen signed fake jobs contracts to pay her bodyguard and cabinet chief as parliament assistant while they apparently did not work in Brussels, Strasbourg or Luxembourg. While his main rivals - François Fillon of the right-wing Republicains and Marine Le Pen of the extreme Front National - are buffeted by corruption scandals, Mr. Macron has opened France's colonial wounds. Le Pen's bodyguard was also detained on Wednesday, but later released.

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She took no questions and continued calmly after a bare-chested Femen protester sought to interrupt her remarks before being carried, still shouting, out of the room.

The far-right chief also vowed not to allow her country be "diminished, isolated, and wholly dependent on the EU".

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The agency's other argument for changing the listing: a computer model that shows they now stand little chance of going extinct. An aerial study which ended at the beginning of this month presented a total number of 6,620 manatees.

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The third issue was one that the leaders did not explicitly spell out but dropped hints about, using phrases such as "new concept" and "bigger deal" with "newfound allies".

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They are killers in the box. "I'd like to play in the Premier League again, preferably at City because the fans already know me". The adventurer in him admires their willingness to commit plenty of players forward. "They attack with a lot of people".

If magistrates bring criminal charges against people so close to Le Pen, it could have a destabilizing effect.

"I will not respond [to the summons] during the election campaign", said Le Pen on Friday. Voters of every political allegiance are telling pollsters they would band together to stymie her bid, much as they did when Ms Le Pen's father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, reached the 2002 run-off.

Berenberg said that against Hamon, Le Pen would have a better chance to win in the final round than against either Macron or Fillon. Le Pen, by contrast, is sharply against the bloc, vowing to renegotiate France's membership if elected and hold a "Frexit" referendum if that fails. She wants to take France out of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation military alliance, the Euro, and probably out of the EU.

Most polls now show Macron, who got a boost this week from the endorsement of centrist Francois Bayrou, is likely to beat Fillon in the first round of the election on April 23 and face off against National Front leader Marine Le Pen in the runoff between the top two candidates two weeks later.

"If you don't pay attention to the details and just listen to the rhetoric, it sounds very French, very classical legalism", Lafont Rapnouil said of Le Pen's traditional discourse. But for this year's election, all bets are off. Francois Hollande's Socialist Party is in tatters after a disastrous term that has made him one of the least popular presidents in the country's history.

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