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France election: Le Pen accused of plagiarising Fillon

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has been accused of plagiarising defeated rival François Fillon in a speech she delivered on Monday.

Several sections of her speech in Villepinte, north of Paris, appear to repeat almost word-for-word comments Mr Fillon made in an address on 15 April.

An official of her National Front party said she had made a “nod” to Mr Fillon and it showed she was “not sectarian”.

Ms Le Pen faces centrist Emmanuel Macron in the final round on Sunday.

The similarity in the speeches was pointed out by the Ridicule TV YouTube channel, initially set up by François Fillon’s supporters to attack Mr Macron before the first round of voting that saw Mr Fillon eliminated from the contest.

Ridicule TV said the far right presidential candidate had plagiarised Mr Fillon’s speech “word for word” and set the two speeches side by side, inviting viewers to make up their own minds.

The videos were also posted on Twitter.

Three passages in particular appear to be similar to Mr Fillon’s speech last month in Puy-en-Velay.

Tweet

One section of Mr Fillon’s speech reads: “Then there is the Rhine frontier, the most open, the most dangerous, also the most promising – a Germanic world we have been so often in conflict with and with which we will yet co-operate in so many ways.”

Ms Le Pen’s speech reads: “Then there is the Rhine frontier, the most open, also the most promising – a Germanic world we will yet co-operate with in so many ways, as long as we regain the relationship of allies and not of subjects.”

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Another apparently duplicated section refers to “waiting lists for the Alliance Française in Shanghai, Tokyo, or Mexico, for the French secondary school in Rabat or Rome”.

The Liberation newspaper said that what was supposed to have been a key speech for the second phase of voting in the election became instead a focus of ridicule for social media users.

But Florian Philippot, deputy chairman of the National Front, told Agence France-Presse that Ms Le Pen’s speech was “a nod to a short passage in a speech about France” on the part of “a candidate that shows she is not sectarian”.

Ms Le Pen’s campaign manager, David Rachline, also played down the accusations of plagiarism, saying the speech was a form of tribute to Mr Fillon, which “was appreciated” by his supporters.

Mr Fillon was a leading candidate for the presidency, representing the establishment conservative Republicans, but his campaign foundered after a funding scandal.

Recent opinion polls suggest Mr Macron is heading for victory on Sunday, carrying around 60% of the vote.

In a speech on Monday he said he would fight “until the last second” against Ms Le Pen’s ideas “of what constitutes democracy”.

Read more at BBC.co.uk

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