French judge takes over probe into Fillon "fake jobs" scandal

Le Pen has also promise to seek an exit from the European Union, revoke the independence of France's central bank, and push for reintroduction of national currencies so she can re-denominate French loans in the new French franc.

The pollsters said Mr Macron has been buoyed by the alliance announced this week with centrist politician Francois Bayrou, which has enabled him to move ahead of conservative candidate Francois Fillon.

Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front (FN), is forecast to win most votes in the first round.

The first round of the French presidential election is scheduled for April 23, while the run-off between the top two candidates of the first vote is slated for May 7.

She is accused of having barely worked for the salary. "Another important point is that it looks like Hamon and Melenchon won't merge, so there is less of a chance that we will have a left-wing candidate that could outpace Macron or Fillon". She said the press "scream about the freedom of the press as soon as they are criticised and whimper about having lost the confidence of the people who turn to the internet". Macron now has a six-point lead over Fillon according to the Odoxa poll - greater than he has had at any point in the campaign.

Polls consistently show Le Pen winning the race's first round, in which all candidates face off against each other, with around 26 percent support.

Both Fillon and Le Pen have also attacked investigations of their use of allegedly fake parliamentary aides as an attempt to influence the election by outgoing Socialist President Francois Hollande.

Fillon has dismissed the claims as politically motivated but he acknowledged last weekend that his presidential bid had become "difficult", with hecklers often massing at his campaign stops. "Many things can still happen", he said.

"Mr. Macron went to Germany recently to express the admiration he had for their decision to welcome 1.5 million migrants", she said, referring to Chancellor Angela Merkel's policy of accepting refugees past year.

An aide and a political ally to Le Pen were charged last week, while Fillon faces a full judicial inquiry into claims he paid his wife and children for fake parliamentary jobs.

Another former premier, the Socialist Manuel Valls, has also warned of the "danger" of assuming that Ms Le Pen can not win.

  • Rogelio Becker