French candidates boost security ahead of tense vote

The Front National leader targeted security concerns as she addressed supporters in Marseille, the multi-ethnic city where two men were arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of planning to attack a presidential candidate.

The newspapers Le Monde and Le Figaro, quoting unnamed sources close to the investigation, said that the front page in the video showed a photograph of conservative candidate Francois Fillon, arousing fears that he might be the target of a planned attack.

Fekl said at a brief news conference that the two French men, one born in 1987 and the other in 1993, "intended to commit an attack on French soil in the very short term, which is to say in coming days".

It was unclear whether a campaign event was a potential target for the attack; Molins said investigators have not determined "the day, the targets and the exact circumstances" of the suspects' plans.

Molins said the Marseille suspects met in 2015 while sharing a prison cell for petty crime.

France's presidential race enters its final stretch with no clear victor in sight as the main contenders scrap for votes in a flurry of campaign rallies.

Le Pen, the anti-immigration and anti-EU candidate, used her final appearances to highlight a nationalist agenda in which "the essentials" are security, illegal immigration and the French identity, which she says is being lost as Islamists try to usurp French civilization and multiply the threat of terrorism.

Le Pen has pressed hard on her anti-immigration, anti-globalisation message as she seeks to mobilise voters.

Photos of the two suspects in the plot were distributed last week to the security teams for Le Pen and centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron.

"The main candidates were warned in the middle of the last week that there was a risk and that two individuals had been identified".

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Issues range from the 10% unemployment rate and the slow recovery of the economy, to the terror attacks in Paris and Nice which killed more than 230 people.

With the start of the French election just days away, investors are contemplating their nightmare scenario: a choice between far-left and far-right candidates. If Le Pen and/or Melanchon show better results than expected, European Union concerns could push the euro back down towards its long-term lows against the dollar and other major currencies.

"There has been a real tightening of the race with four candidates between 19 percent and 23 percent".

On the flipside of its research, UBS predicts that a Le Pen failure could generate more bullish sentiment for the euro, with a possible jump in value of up to 2 percent.

Some analysts have also depicted the French election as a sort of referendum on the European Union, with Le Pen proposing to pull France out of the 28-member club and scrap the euro common currency.

He denied that his euroskeptic stance amounted to wanting to leave the bloc, saying: "Don't believe what they tell you".

Their workload will depend on the outcome of the tight race that could potentially see two extremes - the far right Marine Le Pen and the communist-backed leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon - make it to the second round.

In contrast to Le Pen, Macron told 20,000 people at a Paris rally Sunday that France's future lay firmly in Europe, albeit one that suited French interests.

"For several weeks, we will need to assess the situation".

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