French voters in Switzerland reject Le Pen

Far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen upstaged her centrist opponent Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday by making a surprise campaign stop to a home appliance factory that's the latest hot-button symbol of French job losses to plants overseas. "If I'd been in her place I would have had a Trump-like campaign, a more open one, very aggressive against those responsible for the decadence of our country, whether left or right", Jean-Marie Le Pen told RTL radio.

"I think her campaign was too laid-back".

Mr Le Pen shocked the world in 2002 by qualifying for the second round of the presidential election before losing by a landslide to conservative Jacques Chirac.

He still supports her candidacy in the presidential runoff. This has helped her shake off the pariah tag and broaden her support base.

Meanwhile, Macron's party spokesman has challenged Le Pen on her claim to being the anti-establishment candidate, taking on the country's elites.

Le Pen and Macron will face off in a live televised debate on May 3. Le Pen said she would not let the factory shut down at all and the state would, if she was elected, buy a stake in it if necessary.

Macron came in first in Sunday's vote, with just over 23 percent while Le Pen had 21 percent. Le Pen has toned down the extreme anti-Semitism and xenophobia associated with her party, the National Front.

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Macron, who nabbed 23.8% of the vote, will face euroskeptic candidate Marine Le Pen, who finished second with 21.5% of the vote. European stock markets surged as investors welcomed the first-round results, with Macron favoured to win.

On Monday, Le Pen announced a gambit created to help her do just that.

I have always considered that the president of the Republic is the president of all the French, and as such they must gather all the French.

Le Pen, visiting the Rungis wholesale market outside Paris on Tuesday, said the French government must promote meat from France.

Striking workers at a Whirlpool plant in centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron's hometown of Amiens booed the candidate as paid an impromptu visit to the factory shortly after right-wing presidential candidate Marine Le Pen conducted her own unannounced visit earlier in the day, local media reported Wednesday.

Both Macron and Le Pen will ramp up their presidential campaigning over the next few weeks to help shore up and convince any undecided voters.

"To be the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen was not always easy", she said recently on the BFM TV station.

Her plans to restore France's borders with its European neighbours, pull out of the eurozone and hold a referendum on leaving the EU had sown fear of another devastating blow to the bloc after Britain's vote to leave.

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