Le Pen tells AP she 'changed everything'

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Centrist French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron extended his lead in the polls over his far-right rival Marine Le Pen on Friday, the final day of a tumultuous election campaign that has turned the country's politics upside down.

An Ifop-Fiducial survey on Friday afternoon, hours before official campaigning closed at midnight, showed Macron on course to win 63 percent of votes in the second round and Le Pen 37 percent, the best score for Macron recorded by a major polling organisation since mid-April. Her election manifesto has promised to curb immigration, even the legal one, and says the citizenship can only be "inherited or merited".

"Even if we don't reach our goal, in any event, there is a very big political force that is born", she said on the last day of campaigning, hours before a legally required election news blackout that starts at midnight.

Le Pen, who gave a tell-all interview about her childhood to French M6 television in October, has attempted to give the party a new face.

Four other polls earlier in the day put the centrist on 62 percent and Le Pen on 38 percent, and a fifth showed Macron on 61.5 percent, as his second-round campaign gained ground following a stuttering start last week.

But she has broken with the traditionalist Catholic line of the FN's old guard by opposing calls to reduce reimbursements for abortions and steering clear of demonstrations against a 2013 gay marriage bill.

Le Pen sees her rise as the effect of growing right-wing nationalism and a backlash against globalisation reflected in the election of US President Donald Trump and Britain's shock vote to leave the European Union.

Le Pen's proposal to bring back the franc while replacing the euro with another, looser type of cooperation in the form of an ECU basket of currencies prompted an unusual foray into politics by French central bank governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau.

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Students protested both presidential candidates Friday by blocking high schools and marching through Paris.

Le Pen's father has minimized the Holocaust and her National Front party has been stained by anti-Semitism in the past.

The pamphlet featured a smiling Le Pen on the cover, with headlines describing her as "A woman with heart" and a female politician "In A Man's World".

The pro-business Mr Macron, who topped all vote-getters in the first-round but is widely disliked, has also been booed and heckled frequently as he visited blue-collar workers.

Violent protests also erupted in Paris earlier this week against both candidates in which several police officers were injured and one seriously burnt by a Molotov cocktail. And critics decried the bitter tone of Wednesday night's presidential debate.

"I'm not going to lament our democracy", he said.

One in every five French voters have either far-right or far-left political views - the largest across the European Union - which leaves French society utterly polarized and divided against the backdrop of a presidential runoff scheduled for this weekend, a new survey has found.

"Clearly, the job was not done properly", said a National Front cadre who will be running for a parliament seat and agreed to talk about the campaign on the condition that he would not be named. Our France is attractive, tolerant and cosmopolite. Many who plan to vote for Macron on Sunday see him as the lesser of evils as opposed to a saviour.

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