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Melenchon is gaining more support in French presidential race

Melenchon is gaining more support in French presidential raceFrance’s presidential election is becoming a four-way contest as far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon surges to catch Republican Francois Fillon, stoking uncertainty over the outcome less than two weeks before voting begins, The Bloomberg said on Monday.

In a sign of the closeness of the race, Fillon turned his sights on Melenchon on Sunday as both contenders held rallies at opposite ends of the country. Fillon sought to rally supporters for a comeback as multiple polls suggest that Melenchon has the momentum going into the crucial final stretch of campaigning.

Melenchon's surprise groundswell of support coupled with Fillon’s resilience adds another layer of risk to France’s most unpredictable election in a generation. The latest Kantar Sofres poll published late Sunday had independent Emmanuel Macron and National Front leader Marine Le Pen tied in first place with 24 percent support apiece, followed by Melenchon with 18 percent then Fillon 1 point behind.

While polls have earned a mixed reputation after failing to predict last year’s Brexit vote in the UK or Donald Trump’s election to the White House, the Kantar survey is mirrored by the Bloomberg poll composite, which gives both Melenchon and Fillon about 18 percent and Macron and Le Pen just over 23 percent.

When margins of error are taken into account, that suggests all four candidates are in a position to be among the top two after the first round of voting on April 23, and that the contest remains wide open with a month to go until the May 7 runoff.

Both Le Pen and Macron will flesh out their respective stances on combating terrorism in separate events on Monday.

That follows a major rally held by Fillon in Paris Sunday, where he asked all 577 Republican candidates for the legislative elections to join him - a dig at Macron, who has started a party and doesn’t have all his candidates in place. Pollsters including Lecerf say Fillon may benefit on Election Day from a reserve of supporters who return to their traditional partisan loyalties at the last minute.

While Macron, a former minister in Socialist President Francois Hollande’s administration, is broadly tied with Le Pen for the first round, he’s considered the front-runner because all surveys suggest he’d win a runoff against the National Front leader. The Kantar Sofres poll showed that Fillon and Melenchon would also defeat Le Pen on May 7.

One sign of Melenchon’s momentum is that Macron too has begun attacking him. The Macron campaign’s Twitter feed released a clip Sunday that suggests Melenchon can’t keep his campaign pledges, an argument echoed in a France 3 television interview Sunday.

Melenchon addressed supporters in Marseille, portraying himself as the candidate of peace and criticising Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel for backing U.S. airstrikes in Syria.

“If you want peace, be careful with your vote,” he said.

“We’ve seen the president and his German counterpart give their full backing to the criminal and irresponsible act of the president of the United States. Remember these days when you go to vote,” he added.
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