French presidential contenders stage rival rallies on May Day

In a speech before the gilded statue in Paris of Joan of Arc, his heroine, Jean-Marie Le Pen urged French voters to back his daughter in Sunday's run-off.

A supporter for Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) candidate for 2017 presidential election, holds a placard at a campaign rally in Villepinte, near Paris, France, May 1, 2017.

Police have said their biggest concern was of a potential lone act similar to that on the Champs Elysées 10 days ago when a man armed with an automatic rifle shot dead a police officer, Xavier Jugelé, and injured two of his colleagues.

The bitterly contested election has polarized France, exposing some of the same sense of anger with globalization and political elites that brought Donald Trump to presidential power in the United States, and caused Britons to vote for a divorce from the EU.

Referring to Mr Macron's period as a minister in President Hollande's government, she accused him of being a "candidate of continuity... littered with the corpses of jobs transferred off-shore, the ruins of bust businesses, and the gaping holes of deficit and debt".

Unlike a factory visit last week when Le Pen upstaged centrist rival Emmanuel Macron and took selfies with workers, Le Pen's visit to the Alteo plant in the town of Gardanne appeared to fall flat.

In a video message Friday, she urged the almost 20 per cent of voters who backed eurosceptic leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon in the April 23 first round to "block" Macron, saying his pro-business programme was "diametrically opposed" to leftist ideals.

Le Pen has sought to purge the FN of the anti-Semitism that became its trademark under her father, co-founder Jean-Marie Le Pen - who made the second round in 2002 against the conservative eventual victor Jacques Chirac. The Ifop poll released Sunday showed only 45 percent thought either Le Pen or Macron could help solve the unemployment problem and 36 percent questioned their resolve on protecting France from future terrorist attacks, according to Reuters.

Addressing thousands at a venue outside Paris, Marine Le Pen skewered Macron, a former investment banker, as a puppet of financiers and Islamic fundamentalists, a lapdog of Socialist President Francois Hollande and a member of the "caviar left". But at the 1995 event, some skinheads broke away and pushed 29-year-old Brahim Bourram off a bridge into the Seine River, where he drowned.

Standing on the bridge, Mr Macron hugged Bourram's son Said, who was nine years old when his father was killed.

The National Front traditionally holds a May Day march in Paris to honour Joan of Arc.

Then, earlier this month, Le Pen sparked outrage by suggesting France was not responsible for the wartime round-up of Jews who were sent to Nazi death camps.

Mr Macron joined the man's son and anti-National Front protesters at an annual commemoration near the Louvre Museum. "That is why I am fighting, to say "No" to racism".

Le Pen is the head of France's National Front, which was founded by her father and remained on the periphery of French politics for decades.

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