Le Pen's father says gay marriage 'exalted' in ceremony for dead policeman

French Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, representing France's National Front party, said if elected she would ban religious or ritual animal slaughter.

Physicist Serge Galam, a researcher and member of the Cevipof political science centre at Sciences Po, said the hard-to-quantify "unavowed abstention" could put paid to Emmanuel Macron's chances.

This is how a former investment banker like Macron - who was the choice of the financial elite - ended up being the only credible opposition to Le Pen and why Donald Trump was able to face a candidate as flawed as Hillary Clinton.

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen's far-right party is in new turmoil - its temporary leader is stepping down over allegations he expressed doubt about Nazi gas chambers.

Le Pen, who is far behind Macron in opinion polls, says she would try to negotiate a radical overhaul of France's European Union membership during the first six months of her presidency and then hold a referendum on whether to quit the EU.

Mr Galam said the rise of the hashtag #sansmoile7mai (without me on May 7) also gave credence to the argument. According to the French Interior Ministry, Macron won the first round with 24.01 percent of the votes, while Le Pen got 21.30 percent. She again tore into Macron's more economically liberal program.

In response, Macron tweeted: "Madame Le Pen has gone fishing".

Marine Le Pen is the underdog in the coming run-off vote for the presidency against Emmanuel Macron, the centrist candidate. The runoff will be held on May 7 to determine France's next president.

"I hear Mr Macron say he doesn't like the term "hardship" at work", Le Pen said, referring to social regulations that permit early retirement and other benefits for those who work in hard conditions.

She took selfies with people at the Whirlpool site as he was trying to explain to worker representatives that the company's decision to relocate production in Poland was not something the French state could block.

Macron stopped to talk to workers and answer questions while describing Le Pen's visit as a stunt.

The acting leader of the National Front, Jean-François Jalkh, stepped down on Friday after he was mired in controversy for comments he allegedly made over a decade ago about the gas used at Nazi extermination camps.

There were demonstrations or blockade at about 20 high schools in the Paris area earlier on Thursday, after student unions urged them to turn out.

Instead of lining up behind Macron as other leading candidates have done, Melenchon wants to maintain his independence and to capitalize on his strong showing in the presidential race for a parliamentary election in June.

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