Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

'Ice Bucket Challenge' angers anti-abortion activists

Read more

#TECH 24

Tomorrow's Transport Today

Read more

FOCUS

Mothers and children leaving Honduras at all costs

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

US journalist Peter Theo Curtis freed in Syria

Read more

ENCORE!

An art wonderland: A burnt-out piano, a bed in a box and a giant magic mushroom

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Historian Jean Garrigues: 'For the first time, Hollande knows what he is doing'

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

'Macron-economy' pun already worn out

Read more

DEBATE

What Next for Gaza? Lasting Ceasefire Agreed After 50 Days of War

Read more

DEBATE

What Next for Gaza? Lasting Ceasefire Agreed After 50 Days of War (part 2)

Read more

  • UN says 43 peacekeepers captured in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • Russian troops have entered Ukraine, says Kiev

    Read more

  • Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie say ‘I do’ in France

    Read more

  • Assad cannot be partner in fight against terrorism, says Hollande

    Read more

  • New Ebola case in Nigeria brings death toll to 1,552

    Read more

  • Video: 'Neither Baghdad nor the US can defeat the Islamic State'

    Read more

  • Platini will not run against Blatter for FIFA presidency

    Read more

  • Air France pilots announce week-long strike in September

    Read more

  • Erdogan's inauguration paves way for constitutional change

    Read more

  • New French economy minister takes swipe at 35-hour work week

    Read more

  • Air France suspends flights to Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone

    Read more

  • Uzi shooting by 9-year-old rekindles gun debate

    Read more

  • Mother of American journalist asks IS leader for his release

    Read more

  • UN probe accuses Syrian regime, Islamists of ‘crimes against humanity’

    Read more

  • Uruguayans sign up to grow marijuana at home

    Read more

  • Missouri governor appoints black public safety director

    Read more

  • French unemployment rises 0.8% in July to record high

    Read more

  • Video: Iraq’s Yazidis flee to spiritual capital of Lalish

    Read more

  • Video: Milan is starting point for Syrian refugees’ European odyssey

    Read more

France

Melenchon kicks off key rallies in Marseille

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-04-14

Communist-backed firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon gathered thousands of supporters in Marseille Saturday, kicking off a weekend of key rallies before first-round voting on April 22. The leftist is currently showing third after a surge in the polls.

AFP - Firebrand leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon gathered thousands of supporters in Marseille on Saturday, on a weekend of rallies before the first round of France's presidential vote.

Communist-backed Melenchon, who has shaken up the vote with a surge in the polls, will be hoping for a repeat of rallies in Paris and Toulouse that were the biggest of the campaign, drawing tens of thousands onto the streets.

Sunday will then see the Socialist frontrunner, Francois Hollande, whose confidence was boosted this week as polls showed him cementing his lead, and incumbent right-winger President Nicolas Sarkozy hold rival Paris events.

Ahead of his beachfront rally, Melenchon joked on his blog that the two leading candidates were stealing a page from his playbook and "will now also occupy the streets and risk appearing in public squares".

The Left Front's Melenchon, who two polls Friday showed either tied or ahead of the far-right's Marine Le Pen in third place, has struck a chord with his virulent attacks on France's rich elite and EU-backed austerity measures.



On Sunday, Hollande and Sarkozy will be looking to recreate some of the fervour that has marked Melenchon's campaign, as they compete to draw crowds and media coverage at opposite sides of the capital

Sarkozy has called on supporters to gather in Paris's iconic Place de la Concorde while Hollande has summoned his backers to a concert outside the Chateau de Vincennes in working-class eastern Paris.

The first round of voting in a two-stage battle begins on April 22, and the race entered its final week with Hollande riding a wave of confidence.

He had seen his lead over right-wing Sarkozy narrow slightly in recent weeks, but the incumbent's late surge has not altered pollsters' predictions and the left remains on course for victory in the May 6 run-off.

Two polls published Friday by CSA and TNS-Sofres showed Hollande winning the first round with 27 or 28 percent of the vote, ahead of Sarkozy with 26 percent in both polls.

They predicted Hollande would also win a clear victory in the May 6 run-off vote, with 56 or 57 percent of the vote.

Other recent polls have shown Sarkozy ahead in the first round, but Hollande has enjoyed a consistent second-round lead in voting intentions since he won the Socialist primary in October and remains the clear favourite.

"We're going to win!" Hollande declared on Thursday night at a rally, only to correct himself the next morning when reporters asked about this newfound self-confidence: "We can win. There's your new slogan."

Sarkozy has lashed out at Hollande's tax-and-spend platform, warning that his victory would spark a crisis in investor confidence and a speculative attack on the euro that would bring France "to its knees".

Campaigning Friday in Corsica, Sarkozy urged voters to back him "for the future of the country" and warned that Hollande would govern only to please the left.

"A president of the republic must be the president of those who voted for him and of those who did not. That's the difference between me and Mr Hollande," Sarkozy said.

Analysts say 60-year-old former Socialist Melenchon's advance has kept predictions for Hollande's first-round score low but that most of his supporters are expected to swing to the centre-leftist before the run-off.

The two-week campaign between the two rounds is expected to be fierce, when the frontrunners go head-to-head and broadcasters will no longer be forced by law to accord equal time to outsider candidates.

Le Pen, new leader of her father Jean-Marie Le Pen's anti-immigrant, anti-EU National Front is also to hold a rally in Paris on Tuesday as she seeks to revive a campaign that has been overshadowed by Melenchon's surge.

And centrist Francois Bayrou, a one-time contender for third who is now stuck at about 10 percent in the polls, will hold a rally on Sunday in Marseille as he ends a campaign tour of major French cities.

Date created : 2012-04-14

  • FRENCH ELECTIONS 2012

    French presidential rivals spar over markets

    Read more

  • FRENCH ELECTIONS 2012

    French left rally behind anti-NATO Mélenchon

    Read more

  • FRENCH ELECTION 2012

    Royal endorsement gives Hollande campaign boost

    Read more

COMMENT(S)