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In addition to leading candidates Macron, Fillon and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, the list included three candidates who passed the threshold of 500 elected officials just in time: Jacques Cheminade and Philippe Poutou of small far-left parties and centrist lawmaker Jean Lasalle.

Running as an independent centrist, the former Economy Minister is likely to win the first round of voting with 26.5 percent.

Mr Fillon, who has been blighted by scandal throughout his campaign, will be keen to shift the focus from his alleged misuse of public funds to his manifesto pledges.

Socialist Benoit Hamon has fallen back into joint fourth place alongside radical far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, with both men polling 12%.

All polls show Le Pen would be defeated in the run-off. "The choices he wants to make for the French are not the right ones".

Earlier this month, the authoritative Cevipof survey, put Le Pen well ahead in the April 23 first round, although Macron was seen easily beating her in a May 7 runoff. "You're poor? Become billionaires!" he said, alluding to remarks by Macron, an economic liberal.

The election could hinge on turnout, after several political veterans have already been sent packing by voters fed up with politics as usual.

While The Netherlands enjoyed near-record turnout exceeding 80 percent in its general election last week, polls in France show that only around 65 percent of voters are planning to vote in the first round, which would be a record low.

Macron runs opposed to Le Pen on many issues and the race is a tight one.

Markets, surprised by Britain's Brexit vote last June, are nervous about the possibility of a victory by National Front leader Le Pen, who pledges to take France out of the euro and hold a referendum on European Union membership.

Macron, a relative newcomer to politics, has largely avoided scandal but could be tainted by an investigation into possible favouritism over an event at a 2016 high-tech fair in Las Vegas at which he was the main speaker.


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