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Le Pen uses May Day rally to attack ‘Hollande clone’ Macron

Joel Saget, AFP | French presidential election candidate Marine Le Pen (right) flanked by her former election rival turned ally Nicolas Dupont-Aignan at her meeting in Villepinte, on May 1, 2017

Far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen on Monday used a May Day campaign rally to attack her centrist rival Emmanuel Macron as a clone of the deeply unpopular President François Hollande and a puppet of the world of finance.

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"You thought Hollande was leaving through the door," she said, but noted Macron is in fact Hollande "coming back through the window".

Cheers of "Marine President!" and anti-immigrant chants rose up in the crowd of thousands as Le Pen addressed supporters during a near one-hour long speech held in the northern Parisian suburb of Villepinte.

Le Pen, who accuses Macron of being a puppet of the world of finance, missed no opportunity to heckle the former Socialist government economy minister, saying that he had thought more about role of the first lady than his plans to fight Islamist terrorism.

“On May 7, I ask you all to stand tall against finance, arrogance and the rain of money,” she said.

With one week to go before the second and final round of the 2017 presidential election, the race to the Elysée palace has polarised France, exposing some of the same sense of anger with globalisation and political elites that brought Donald Trump to presidential power in the United States, and caused Britons to vote for a divorce from the EU.

Although Le Pen has worked hard to cleanse her National Front party of xenophobic and anti-semitic associations to make it more appealing to a wider electorate, she was last month criticised for saying today’s France bore no responsibility for the 1942 roundup and deportation of more than 13,000 Jews in what is known as the "Vél d'Hiv round up", after they were interned in the Vélodrome d'Hiver indoor bicycle racing track in Paris.

But her hardline anti-EU, anti-immigration platform seems to be attracting some voters.

The May 7 vote in the world’s fifth largest economy, will be the first in which the winning candidate will represent neither of the main French political groupings. The candidates of the governing Socialist Party and of the conservative Les Républicains were knocked out in the first round on April 23.

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