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Marine Le Pen tries to broaden her mainstream appeal as crunch French election approaches

Marion Lory | CNBC

Less than a week before the second round of the French presidential election, Marine Le Pen held a major rally in the Paris suburb of Villepinte as the presidential hopeful tries to broaden her appeal to conservative voters across the country.

In a one-hour speech in front of thousands of people, she was interrupted by chants of "we will win" and "Marine president". She hit out at her opponent Emmanuel Macron and refined her project to appeal to a wider spectrum of right-leaning voters. This aim to extend her reach has been implemented by Le Pen since the first round of voting and bore fruit over the weekend as she signed an agreement with Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (a right-wing politician who lost in the first round with 4.7 percent) to join forces for the presidential election.

Le Pen promised to appoint Dupont-Aignan prime minister if she was elected as president. This was a nomination well received by supporters like Camille, who traveled to the Villepinte rally to back his choice for the presidency.

"This appointment gives credibility to Marine Le Pen's candidacy", said Camille, who voted Francois Fillon in the first round but will now vote for the far-right presidential hopeful. A fringe of Fillon's voters are tempted to vote for Le Pen as she appears to soften her image to gather the more Conservative voters.

"Patriots from different currents can now gather to defend their country. We now form a big patriot and Republican alliance", Le Pen said in her speech on Monday, with some accusations in the French media that she had borrowed directly from a speech on April 15 from Fillon himself.
Nonetheless, if Le Pen is gaining support from outside her party, it will unlikely give her enough votes to win the election.

"Dupont-Aignan's agreement with National Front will have a marginal impact on the vote, because he was very much isolated from the mainstream Conservative right already", explained Jean-Yves Camus, a political analyst at IRIS, a French think tank.
A few kilometers away, Emmanuel Macron also held his last big rally in Paris ahead of the second round this coming Sunday. French flags were flying alongside European Union flags. The candidate for En Marche (which translates to "Onwards") also hit out at his rival. However, he also tried to convince those people who are looking to abstain from voting, which pundits believe could be a major factor in Sunday's vote. Macron urged people to mobilize themselves to defeat the far-right presidential hopeful.

Marion Lory | CNBC

"Don't whistle at her, make her lose and make them vote", he advised his crowds.
May 1 is also Labor Day and traditionally celebrated by trade unions in France, and across most of Europe. This year, the main trade unions didn't manage to agree on a protest against the National Front like in 2002 when they all united against Jean-Marie Le Pen.

The main union, the CFDT (French Democratic Confederation of Labor) and the CGT (General Confederation of Labor) have called to stop Marine Le Pen in the second round, while FO (a far-left trade union called the General Confederation of Labor - Workers' Force) hasn't given any voting instructions.

In the latest poll conducted by OpinionWay for French financial newspaper Les Echos, Macron was leading with 61 percent of the vote against 39 percent for Marine Le Pen. The second round of the presidential election will be held on May 7.