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France set to choose between homegrown 'Trump' and 'Obama'

The French election looks set to boil down to a face-off between a Trump-esque rabble-rouser and a fresh-faced "Obama candidate" as pundits all but eulogise the campaign of Francois Fillon, who has fallen foul of a corruption scandal.

Centre-right contender Fillon is not expected to survive the first round of voting following charges of nepotism, with some media alleging his wife and two adult children hauled in some $1.5m in government wages despite not showing up to work.

Fillon has left observers shaking their heads after admitting he was under investigation over "PenelopeGate" but refusing nonetheless to hang up his skates while decrying the scandal as a "political assassination".

"I will go to the end because it is democracy that is being defied," he said. "I ask you to follow me."

But the likely contestants of May's run-off vote, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, are hardly cleanskins themselves.

The EU looks set to vote down Le Pen's parliamentary immunity, which could lead to the Trump-style candidate being prosecuted for a series of tweets she made in 2015.

Le Pen is already under investigation in France for tweeting three brutal images of ISIS executions – including the beheading of James Foley – which might contravene regulations about the "publishing of violent images".

Macron, meanwhile, was forced earlier this month to deny (in a fashion) that he had a gay love affair outside his heterosexual marriage, allegedly with Radio France boss Mathieu Gallet.


"If you're told I lead a double life with Mr Gallet, it's because my hologram has escaped," Macron announced cryptically, forcing a spokeswoman to characterise the statement as a "clear denial" of the relationship.

According to the pollsters' process of elimination, the former Hollande policy advisor, who is 39, might be the man most likely to triumph in a race that has approached the depravity of the US campaign.

"There is a movement towards Macron," European politics expert Emmanuelle Schon-Quinilivan told CNN.

"He's the Obama, the alternative to Le Pen for those who think we've tried everything but don't want Le Pen."

The endorsement of centrist leader Francois Bayrou, too, has put the breeze at Macron's back, with their tandem act being described by some as "unbeatable".

"At the moment, it's about what everyone is doing for the second round because the one who goes up against Le Pen will be the next president," Schon-Quinilivan said.

And yet Le Pen, operating right out of the Trump playbook, is least likely to be affected by "bad press", even after it transpired that members of her staff had drawn paycheques for non-existent EU jobs – a fact Le Pen at first admitted, then later denied.

Source: 9news

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