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PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron will launch his re-election bid on March 5 with an inaugural campaign rally in Marseille, three sources in his centrist Republic on the Move (LREM) party told AFP on Wednesday.

Opinion polls have steadily indicated that Macron, who is expected to officially declare his candidacy next week, is likely to come out on top in the first round of voting on April 10.

Yet the polls also suggest that securing a second five-year term in the run-off vote two weeks later is far from a foregone conclusion, as Macron faces strong opposition from far-right parties.

The extreme-right vote is currently divided between two candidates, Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour, trailed by the conservative candidate Valerie Pecresse.

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Macron, a former investment banker and economy minister under Socialist president Francois Hollande, swept to power in 2017 as an outsider candidate of “neither the right nor the left,” promising wide-ranging reforms to shake up the French economy.

He moved quickly to cut taxes and loosen labour laws in a bid to stoke growth, and pushed through an overhaul of the state-owned railway SNCF despite fierce resistance from labour unions.

Yet he also drew ire for policies said to favour the wealthy, and a fuel tax increase that impacted rural and small-town France in particular sparked the fiery “yellow vest” protests in 2018 and 2019 that forced him to make a series of concessions for low-income households.

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