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April 24, 2017

What happened today in France's presidential race

What happened today in France's presidential race
'French presidential election candidate for the right-wing Les Republicains party Francois Fillon, pictured in March 2017, continues to claim that a smear campaign was run against him by President Francois Hollande's government' - By: AFP IROZ GAIZKA

'French presidential election candidate for the far-right Front National party Marine Le Pen (C) acknowledges applause after she delivered a speech during a rally at the Zenith venue on March 26, 2017 in Lille' AFP / ALAIN JOCARD
"'French presidential election candidate for the far-right Front National party Marine Le Pen (C) acknowledges applause after she delivered a speech during a rally at the Zenith venue on March 26, 2017 in Lille'"

Paris (AFP) - Four weeks to the day before France goes to the polls for the first round of a presidential election that is being watched around the world, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen savaged the EU.

Here are two things that happened in the campaign on Sunday:

Fillon camp makes wiretap claims

Conservative candidate Francois Fillon's team expanded on his claims that President Francois Hollande had conducted a smear campaign against him, saying it was possible that the government had tapped his phones.

"It is an extremely strong possibility," said Eric Ciotti, a lawmaker who is one of Fillon's closest aides. He acknowledged, however, that he did not "personally" have any proof to back up the accusation.

Fillon said last week that Hollande had created a "secret cell" to leak information against him.

The 63-year-old former prime minister has slipped from frontrunner to third place in the race since he was charged over accusations that his wife, Penelope, was paid hundreds of thousands of euros for a "fake job" as his parliamentary aide.

Le Pen wants less Germany, more France

The National Front's Marine Le Pen attacked those who want "even more of the European Union" during a speech to a packed hall in the northern city of Lille.

"Germany dominates, imposing its politics and its choices but doing so against the interests of France and other countries," Le Pen told the flag-waving crowd.

"My choice is different. I want more France!" said the candidate who has pledged that if elected, she will pull France out of the euro and hold a referendum on whether the country should leave the EU.

Polls currently show that Le Pen will reach the May 7 runoff after finishing as one of the top two candidates in the first round of voting on April 23. But the polls also show that she will be beaten in that second round.

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