Socialist politician Arnaud Montebourg, who caused a surprise when he finished third in the first round of voting to select the party's presidential candidate, has still not offered public support for either François Hollande or Martine Aubry in Sunday's final vote.

"/> Socialist politician Arnaud Montebourg, who caused a surprise when he finished third in the first round of voting to select the party's presidential candidate, has still not offered public support for either François Hollande or Martine Aubry in Sunday's final vote.

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FRANCOIS HOLLANDE

Montebourg hesitates on backing candidate

Socialist politician Arnaud Montebourg, who caused a surprise when he finished third in the first round of voting to select the party's presidential candidate, has still not offered public support for either François Hollande or Martine Aubry in Sunday's final vote.

Montebourg hesitates on backing candidate
Lysandre78 (File)

Montebourg, who campaigned on a left-wing platform of protectionism and more state intervention, polled 17 percent of the votes in Sunday’s vote.

François Hollande finished top with 39 percent of the votes and Martine Aubry in second place on 30 percent, with the two facing a final run-off to choose the nominee this Sunday.

Montebourg’s score appeared to give him a king-maker role in the final vote and he had earlier promised to give his public backing to one of the two candidates.

On Thursday, his spokesman Géraud Guibert said he “will not be giving formal backing” because “he does not own his electors,” according to newspaper Metro France.

Montebourg will decide whether or not to make public his own personal vote in Sunday’s election.

However, the newspaper reported that there were still mixed signals from the Montebourg camp with another spokesman promising he would “make an announcement very soon” about his backing.

Montebourg wrote a letter to the two remaining candidates earlier in the week setting out what he would like to see them do. A statement from his camp said he would “not give an indication of his vote until the full process he has set out has run its course,” suggesting he may still give one of the candidates his support depending on their final responses.

With just two days to go the candidates have been making final campaign tours and giving interviews to rally support. The eventual winner will represent the Socialist party in presidential elections due to be held in two rounds, on April 22nd and May 6th 2012.

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FRANCOIS HOLLANDE

Here’s the latest in France’s presidential race

President Francois Hollande warned would-be successors they should cleave closely to Europe as it was "impossible" that France could contemplate going its own way.

Here's the latest in France's presidential race
French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron in Reunion. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

Here are three things that happened in the campaign on Saturday:

Let them throw eggs

Conservative candidate Francois Fillon, under pressure over allegations of fake parliamentary jobs for the family which have hit his poll ratings, received a chaotic reception on a trip to the southern Basque region where some protesters pelted him with eggs.

Fillon, who has accused Hollande of helping foment a smear campaign against him amid claims his wife was on the public payroll but did little for her salary, ran the gauntlet in the small town of Cambo-les-Bains.

Locals demanding an amnesty for radical Basque nationalists banged pots and pans, hurled abuse and objects.

“The more they demonstrate the more the French will back me,” Fillon insisted before meeting with local officials.

Warning on Europe

President Francois Hollande warned would-be successors they should cleave closely to Europe as it was “impossible” that France could contemplate going its own way.

In a barb aimed at far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen, Hollande said: “So some want to quit Europe? Well let them show the French people they would be better off alone fighting terrorism without the indispensable European coordination…

“Let them show that without the single currency and (single) market there would be more jobs, activity and better purchasing power,” Hollande said in Rome where he attended the ceremonies marking the EU's 60th anniversary.

Le Pen, favoured in opiniion polls to reach the second-round run-off vote in May, wants France to dump the euro, but Hollande said that would lead to devaluation and loss of purchasing power as he warned against nationalist populism.

'Not Father Christmas'

French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, seen in polls as beating Marine Le Pen in the May 7 run-off, was in Reunion, a French overseas department in the Indian Ocean, where alongside discussing local issues, he told voters he was “not Father Christmas.”

“I don't have the solution to all problems and I am not Father Christmas,” the 39-year-old former economy minister and banker admitted, saying he had not come to make “promises.”

He indicated he would focus on education as a priority on an island where around one in five youths are illiterate.