‘Be truly rebellious’, right-winger Marine Le Pen urges left wing voters, as she tries to garner their support

When French president Emmanuel Macron launched his La République En Marche! party in 2016, his aim was to create a “progressive movement” which would unite both the left and right.

Now, his far-right opponent in the presidential race appears to be turning Mr Macron’s policy on its head, urging supporters of a party led by a staunch socialist to lend their support to her campaign.

Following the first round vote, which leaves her facing Mr Macron in the run-off later this month, Marine Le Pen called for the supporters of her far-left rival, Jean-Luc Mélenchon – who missed out on making the second round by just one per cent - to vote for her. Mr Mélenchon is a former member of the radical wing of the Socialist Party in France, as well as having been a signed up participant in a Trotskyist branch of the Communist party in the 1970s.

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"I say to the voters of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, be truly rebellious, don't go save the head of Emmanuel Macron,” her spokesperson was quoted as saying.

President Emmanuel Macron after polls closed in the first round of voting in the French Presidential Election.

Ms Le Pen - daughter of controversial former party leader Jean-Marie Le Pen - perhaps opted to look left for votes after alienating some support from another far-right party, Reconquête, led by rival Eric Zemmour, when she claimed last month that he has “a few Nazis” among his supporters. The weekend’s results, however, suggested that she had already won over a number of would-be Zemmour voters, who faltered at the last minute, deciding they would rather back a frontrunner.

On the campaign trail in northern France on Monday morning, Mr Macron was forced to do his own bit of backtracking when he came up against a pair of non-vaccinated women who took against his Covid policies.

During the pandemic, the French president took what was seen as a bold step for an ostensibly moderate leader in introducing stringent vaccine passports which barred the unvaccinated from taking part in almost all normal life.

"I want to piss off the unvaccinated,” he was widely quoted as saying earlier this year.

On Monday, the women turned on him. “You said we are second-rate citizens,” they told him.

"I never said you were second-rate citizens,” Mr Macron told them, adding that he had meant it in an “affectionate way”.

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