French presidential candidate Macron cheered by Lyon rally

French far-right candidate Marine Le Pen blasted the "two totalitarianisms" of globalization and Islamic fundamentalism Sunday in a speech formally launching her presidential campaign that hit all the right chords for her National Front party followers.

But in the most unpredictable election race France has known in decades, the FN hopes a two-day rally in Lyon, where Le Pen is spelling out her electoral platform, will help convince voters to back her.

The 39-year-old former investment banker has created a buzz on the campaign trail in recent weeks and polls now show he would reach the election run-off on May 7, where he would probably face far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

"The entire world — it's true for Brexit, it's true for Mr. Trump — is becoming conscious of what we've been saying for years", she said in a television interview. No more euro currency, European Union or open borders.

Meanwhile followers of Le Pen's likely run-off opponent Macron cheered "Oui, on peut" at a Saturday rally, hinting at former U.S. president Barack Obama's campaign slogan "Yes, we can".

A referendum on a so-called Frexit along the lines of the British vote in June 2016 to leave the bloc is a cornerstone of her campaign.

Looking to translate her high early poll numbers into votes, Le Pen evoked a frightening image of France's future during her much-anticipated speech. Le Pen's message here is really that France is being destoyed by immigration, by globalisation, and that she's the person to fix it. Her plan includes reserving public bids for French companies if their offers are reasonable and adding a tax for foreign workers.

Her closest rival is the 39-year-old independent Emmanuel Macron, who also launched his campaign in Lyon.

"They don't speak in the name of the people, they speak in the name of their bitterness, they speak for themselves, from father to daughter and daughter to niece", he said, referring to Le Pen's father Jean-Marie and niece Marion.

Ms Le Pen claimed "mass immigration" caused by globalisation left French people feeling "dispossessed" of their own country and allowed Islamic fundamentalism, an ideological "enemy of France", to settle on its territory.

With the conservative candidate, Francois Fillon, battling a financial scandal based on fictitious jobs for his Welsh wife Penelope, Mr Macron has a strong chance of victory.

Macron distanced himself from the Socialist Party to create a party called En Marche!

The European Union, she said, "is a failure".

The FN would combine leaving the euro with unorthodox policies including money printing, currency intervention and import taxes, Jean Messiha, who has overseen the drafting of Le Pen's manifesto, told Reuters ahead of the rally.

"It hasn't upheld one of its promises especially in terms of prosperity and security", Le Pen told the cheering crowd on Sunday.

France's 10 percent jobless rate, growing disgust with politics as usual and the disarray of its political establishment both on the right and left have boosted the appeal of the National Front.

Still, Le Pen knows that not all her measures please her supporters — including a decision not to seek a return of the death penalty, which was abolished in 1981.

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