Macron Leads French Polls As Campaigning Draws To Close
Fears abound abstention from leftist voters could harm centrist's chances of beating Marine Le Pen to presidency;
Independent centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron on Friday widened his lead over far-right rival Marine Le Pen, just two days before a historic run-off to choose France's 25th president.
Sunday's presidential election is one of the country's most decisive contests in decades. It marks the first time since 1974 that neither presidential candidate is from a mainstream party.
According to an Elabe poll for BFM TV and L'Express, Macron will become president with 62 percent of the vote compared to 38 percent for Le Pen, an increase of three points for the centrist candidate compared to previous polls results.
Macron was outgoing President Francois Hollande's top adviser on economic issues from 2012 to 2014, and served as economy minister in the president's Socialist government for two years.
The ex-investment banker later founded his own political movement, En Marche! (On the move), in April last year.
The centrist candidate has received the backing of several national and international political personalities during the final week of campaigning, most recently from former U.S. President Barack Obama.
However, the fear of high abstention -- in particular among leftist voters who refuse to choose between Macron and Le Pen -- is putting a possible victory for Macron at risk.
Around 25 percent of the French electorate are likely to abstain, according to an Odoxa poll published on Friday.
The turnout was close to 78 percent in April 23’s first-round vote that placed Macron first with 24.01 percent of the vote followed by Le Pen, who won 21.30 percent.
France's new president will be formally confirmed by mid-May.
The presidential vote will then be followed by two-round legislative elections in June.