French candidates canvass for votes from despairing farmers

French candidates canvass for votes from despairing farmers

French candidates canvass for votes from despairing farmers

French presidential candidate Francois Fillon will remain in the race despite announcing that he is under formal investigation.

According to the allegations, Mr Fillon paid his spouse and parliamentary assistant, Penelope more than €680,000 (£581,000) of taxpayers' money for work.

Fillon has not been charged but has been summoned for questioning by an investigating magistrate on March 15.

Fillon, 62, leader of the center-right Les Republicains Party, won party primary elections in November by highlighting his scandal-free image.

The date is just two days before the deadline for candidates to submit their final applications.

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A former prime minister during Nicolas Sarkozy's presidency, he was selected late past year in national primaries held by the centre-right Republicans that attracted some four million voters.

The "fake jobs" allegations, first brought to light by French weekly Le Canard Enchaine, have dogged Fillonand his presidential campaign for weeks.

At the rally, Le Pen accused ex-financier Macron of being backed by banks and media groups, and said the justice system was being used to influence the outcome of the election. Chirac received almost 20 million additional votes in the second round, while Le Pen gained only 700,000.

Opinion polls now put him lagging in third place for the first round of the French election, behind Front National leader Marine Le Pen and centre-left independent candidate Emmanuel Macron.

Penelope was also employed at an art magazine from May 2012 to December 2013, where she was paid roughly 5,000 euros a month. But he had earlier promised to step out of the presidential race if he was placed under formal investigation.

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Mr Fillon's campaign team said he would make a statement at 11am.

After a new assessment of terrorist threats, Hollande said security will be heightened at campaign events and voting stations.

A European Parliament draft report supports the lifting of Le Pen's immunity, but will need the approval of the legislature's legal affairs committee, the official said.

Marine Le Pen could be the first far-right politician to be voted into power in Western Europe since WWII. "This is not the point of an election".

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