[Ed. – The center-right candidate, François Fillon — no great hero, but much the best option — is being squeezed out by a multi-pronged attack. Leftist agitators are targeting his rallies, and supposedly apolitical magistrates are opening an uncharacteristic judicial inquiry into whether he hired family members into government positions. (Which, if you pay the slightest attention to the nepotism the French routinely shrug off in their highest officials, is laughable.) This is shaping the contest into a face-off between the socialist Emmanuel Macron, and the “populist” Marine Le Pen. Le Pen is also under intense assault from left-wing disruption of her rallies, and another awful-darn-particular investigation of how she used political employees. It sure looks like someone wants to position Macron to win, by denying center-right voters a conventional choice — leaving them only Le Pen, with her troubling connections and family history.]
France’s presidential race has turned messy as two leading candidates confront judicial problems and disruption of their rallies.
Marine Le Pen of the populist National Front, who leads the polls for the April 23 first round of the presidential elections, and Republican candidate Francois Fillon have accused the Socialist government of not doing enough to protect them while campaigning across the country.
At the weekend Le Pen visited Nantes, south west of Paris, but buses bringing her supporters to a rally were attacked by thugs, and clashes also occurred outside the rally venue.
Fillon has also seen campaign rallies regularly disrupted by far-left activists and accused the government of letting a climate of near-civil war develop in the country.
But the problems faced by the two candidates may yet worsen. Le Pen faces the possibility of an official investigation over the use of aides who were allegedly paid by European taxpayers but were in fact working for her party.