German Bund Yields Hit One-Month Low on French Election Jitters

French presidential election candidates Francois Fillon Emmanuel Macron Jean Luc Melenchon Marine Le Pen and Benoit Hamon pose before a debate organised by French private TV channel TF1 in Aubervilliers outside Paris France

Francois Fillon, former French Prime Minister and 2017 presidential election candidate of the French centre-right, gestures after a campaign rally in Toulon March 31, 2017.

"I would simply vote "No" in the referendum", said Schmitt, who said he was still undecided about the presidential vote but thinks Le Pen has "a lot of good ideas".

The discussion was at times chaotic and dominated by the anti-capitalist and virulently anti-EU smaller candidates who made their first major appearance ahead of the first round of the two-stage vote on April 23.

With less than three weeks before the first-round of the French presidential elections, Le Pen and independent candidate Emmanuel Macron have been running in a virtual tie in polls for the initial ballot.

The Cevipof poll, which surveyed 14,300 people between March 31 and April 2, said Macron would beat Le Pen in the May 7 runoff by 61 percent to 39 percent.

The 11 candidates included frontrunners Emmanuel Macron, Marine Le Pen and François Fillon as well as those with less than 1% support at the polls.

Jacques Cheminade, head of the LaRouche movement, railed against what he called the "financial dictatorship" and Philippe Poutou of the New Anti-Capitalist Party slammed "those who stuff themselves".

"The French understand that the stakes in this election are to reorient Europe" in view of globalisation and Britain's decision to quit the European Union, said Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, head of Debout la France (Rise Up France). Le Pen has pushed to normalize the ultra-conservative National Front and scour racism and anti-Semitism from its ranks.

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According to Le Pen, investors "are anxious because they know they will no longer be able to make the profits they made previously".

As many candidates from the left and right harshly criticized the European Union, Macron said he has the European project "in (his) heart".

The French media seized on the comments with newspaper Le Parisien calling the different views of the politicians a "cold war".

Yet in the May second round, disenchanted supporters of the far-left, the Socialist party or the eliminated mainstream candidate may abstain or put in an invalid protest vote, effectively boosting Le Pen's chances.

"The non-candidate president was perhaps not wrong", Noblecourt said.

"The FN claims to be anti-system but protects itself thanks to the system's laws on parliamentary immunity", he went on - a swipe at Ms Le Pen's refusal to answer a judge's summons.

The French economy has not recovered since the economic crisis of 2008, and Hollande's policy of imposing high tax rates has caused a capital flight to Britain, Belgium, and other low-tax countries rather than bringing additional revenue to France.

Le Pen voters were the most certain, with 82 percent sure of their choice, up 4 percentage points.

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