Le Pen aide already slams Macron while campaigning for runoff

Le Pen aide already slams Macron while campaigning for runoffThe top aide to the far-right leader Marine Le Pen sharply attacked her centrist opponent Emmanuel Macron as campaigning for the final round on May 7 got under way within hours of first round results, Reuters reported on Monday.

"Emmanuel is not a patriot. He sold off national companies. He criticised French culture," Florian Philippot, deputy leader of Le Pen's National Front told BFM TV, saying she and Macron held completely different visions of France.

Philippot called the independent centrist and former investment banker "arrogant" and said that in Sunday night's speech acclaiming his move into the second round "he was speaking as if he had won already".

"That was disdainful towards the French people," Philippot said. Macron's victory dinner celebrations at Paris's upscale Rotonde restaurant amounted to "bling-bling biz," he said.

As both sides looked to court support now from their defeated rivals for the crucial May vote, Le Pen's camp took aim at what they see as Macron's weak spots - his privileged banker background and his role as the economy minister in a discredited Socialist government of outgoing President Francois Hollande.

Global markets reacted with relief to Sunday's outcome which broke a pattern of anti-establishment election shocks in which Britons voted to quit the European Union and Donald Trump was elected U.S. president.

The euro briefly reached five-month peaks while European shares rose sharply on the likelihood that the 39-year-old Macron will win the presidency in the runoff against Le Pen. Her pledge to ditch the euro currency and possibly quit the European Union has unnerved markets.

Though Macron, 39, is a comparative political novice who has never held elected office, new opinion polls on Sunday saw him easily winning the final clash against the 48-year-old Le Pen.

A Harris survey saw Macron going on to win the runoff against her by 64 percent to 36. An Ipsos/Sopra Steria poll gave a similar result.

Analysts say Le Pen's best chance of hauling back Macron's big lead in the polls is to paint him as a part of an elite aloof from ordinary French people and their problems. Part of that strategy would be to remind voters of Macron's former role as a deal-maker in investment banking and economy minister under Hollande.

Without waiting for figures from the count, two defeated candidates - conservative Francois Fillon and socialist Benoit Hamon - urged their supporters now to throw their energies into backing Macron to stop any chance of victory by Le Pen, whose anti-immigration and anti-Europe policies they said spelt disaster for France.

Melenchon declined to back either of the two.
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