French presidential candidates enter final day of campaign

Paris: France's presidential contenders Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen traded final blows on the last day of campaigning Friday to drive home why their particular political brand and not the other's is the right choice for voters in one of the world's wealthiest large democracies.

Macron, the center-right incumbent, laid into the nationalist rival he is set to face in a Sunday runoff, accusing the far-right leader of trying to divide France over Islam.

The far right lives off fear and anger creating resentment. It says that excluding parts of society is the answer, Macron told France Inter radio. (But) I want to try to answer it... (and) make us live as a united nation.

Lagging behind Macron in the latest opinion polls, Le Pen campaigned in her stronghold of northern France in a last-ditch effort to try to close the gap. In a a gritty mood, Le Pen lashed out at Macron's planned pensions reform, which she described as an effort to make the French work forever. The French, with Emmanuel Macron, will end up with life," Le Pen said. This reform of Emmanuel Macron is a deep social injustice."

In a bid to seduce working-class voters and electors who cast some 7.7 million votes for leftist candidate Jean-Luc M lenchon in the first round, Macron has watered down a campaign pledge to raise the retirement age in France to 65 by 2030. He now says he will consult with unions before deciding on the new legal retirement age.

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