Outgoing President Francois Hollande has warned against a France ruled by far-right National Front presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, vowing to "do everything" in his power to prevent it from happening.
Hollande made the comments in an interview with European newspapers on Monday, saying Le Pen posed a “threat” to France and the European Union, adding that his "ultimate duty" was to prevent a victory of the far-right leader in this year's presidential election.
"My ultimate duty is to make sure that France is not won over by such a program, and that France does not bear such a heavy responsibility," Hollande said of a possible victory by Le Pen in the upcoming election.
The outgoing president said France "is aware that the vote on April 23 and May 7 will determine not only the fate of our country but also the future of the European project itself.”
Hollande stressed that Le pen’s victory “would immediately open a process of exit from the eurozone and even from the EU,” noting, “My last duty is to do everything possible so that France is not convinced by such a project.”
Le Pen, who is known for her anti-immigrant rhetoric, has promised that if she won the presidency she would hold a referendum on France’s exit from the EU.
Recent opinion polls suggest that the far-right leader is likely to win the first round of France's election on April 23 with around 27 percent of votes, but would lose in the run-off on May 7 either to centrist and pro-EU Emmanuel Macron or conservative candidate Francois Fillon.
The predictions are made at a time when Le Pen and Fillon are both facing allegations of misusing public money.
European Union officials claim Le Pen, also a member of the European Parliament (MEP), used EU funds to pay a total of €340,000 to her bodyguard and a Paris-based assistant.
Fillon is also facing allegations over claims that he paid his British wife nearly €830,000 as a parliamentary assistant for more than a decade, and also paid his two eldest children a total of €84,000 as assistants while he was a senator.
Fillon has described the allegations as “entirely calculated to stop me being a candidate for the presidential election” and has ruled out stepping aside for another candidate from his party.
According to a new poll conducted in France, conservative politician Alain Juppe would certainly reach a second round of the election in the country if he replaces Fillon.