Macron widens lead ahead of final French presidential vote

Independent centrist Emmanuel Macron s 24% ahead of his far-right rival Marine Le Pen according to the latest polls

Macron widens lead ahead of final French presidential vote

French presidential election candidate Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech yesterday, 04-05-2017. Image: Eliot Blondet/ABACAPRESS.COM

Independent centrist Emmanuel Macron is the favourite to become the next French president with just two days left until voting begins.

Mr Macron is 24% ahead of his far-right rival Marine Le Pen according to the latest polls with ballots set to open on Sunday.

There are fears many of the country’s 47 million voters may spoil their votes in protest at their dislike of both candidates.

Senior policy advisor for Emmanuel Macron, Clement Beaune told Newstalk it is a major concern:

“People have to understand that it is a very important choice for the country; for Europe as a whole actually,” he said. “They will have to show up to make their voice heard. It is a crucial election for our country and for Europe.”

The election is seen as the most important in France for decades with two completely opposite views on Europe and France’s place in global politics at stake.

Ms Le Pen has called for stricter border controls and pledged to quit the Euro – while Mr Macron wants greater European cooperation and an open economy.

According to an Elabe poll for BFM TV and L'Express, Macron is on course for 62% of the votes in the second round compared to 38% for Le Pen.

The figures show and an increase of three points for the centrist candidate compared to his projected score in the last poll.

The showing is among his best since nine other candidates were eliminated in the first round on April 23.

However a separates poll has suggested a quarter of the country’s electorate was likely to abstain from the vote.

Many of those planning to abstain voted for the more leftist candidates eliminated in the first round – according to a poll from FranceInfo.

A third of the supporters of defeated far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon - who placed fourth in the first round - said they were evenly opposed to both Macron and Le Pen.

The turnout rate for the first round of the election was close to 78%, according to the interior ministry.

The poll comes after a fiery televised debate between the two candidates on Wednesday evening which Macron was seen as having won by French viewers, according to two recent polls.

There were testy exchanges and insults all through the debate, with Ms Le Pen calling her opponent a smirking, arrogant banker who did little for French workers during his tenure at economy minister.

Mr Macron ended one of his exchanges by telling Ms Le Pen that she was talking nonsense - adding that French voters deserve better.