Far-left candidate surges in French election polls

France election: Far-left Melenchon enjoys late poll surge

France election: Far-left Melenchon enjoys late poll surge

A member of the French far-left Parti de Gauche pastes a poster on a free billboard for French far-left Parti de Gauche candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon over a poster of Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon (top L) as part of the 2017 French presidential election campaign in Nice, France, April 12, 2017. Le Pen argues that Muslim immigration and economic globalization are destroying France's identity, and polls suggest she could advance to the second round of France's presidential election, set for April 23 and May 7.

According to reports, Paris's prosecutor's office launched an investigation in 2015 to look into the European Union parliamentary assistants fraudulently paid for their services with European Union funds while working for Le Pen's National Front (FN) party.

Living and breathing politics from her youngest years, Le Pen has said her childhood was deeply marked by the explosion of a bomb that destroyed the family apartment when she was eight years old in an incident that remains unsolved.

Le Pen's chief of staff Catherine Griset and Charles Hourcade, previously a graphic designer at FN headquarters, were charged with concealment.

Since taking the helm in 2011, Le Pen has sought to rid the party of the anti-Semitic image it acquired under the almost 40-year leadership of her father, ex-paratrooper Jean-Marie Le Pen.

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His line - "When we workers are summoned by the police, we do go there, we don't have workers immunity" - left Le Pen silent and was widely picked up on social media.

"From the moment I implement intelligent protectionism that will fight against unfair worldwide competition, it will turn the economy around", Le Pen was quoted as saying, adding that growth will be accompanied by an increase in purchasing power.

The European Parliament last month lifted her immunity in another investigation, over tweeting gruesome images of Islamic State violence.

Asked on franceinfo TV station whether she was calling on EU lawmakers to reject the request, Le Pen said: "It's a debate that we will have at the European parliament's legal committee" and declined to comment further.

Communist-backed Jean-Luc Melenchon, riding high in the polls, would also likely struggle to form a parliamentary majority if he pulled off a shock win.

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