France's Macron dismisses affair as rival Fillon battles scandal

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France’s tightly-contested presidential race sank deeper into smear and sleaze on Tuesday after centrist Emmanuel Macron was forced to deny an extramarital affair and as scandal continued to dog conservative Francois Fillon and his party.
A slump in support for Fillon after accusations that he used taxpayers’ money to pay his wife for work she may not have done has propelled Macron into the top spot in opinion polls.
Late on Monday, Macron, a centrist former economy minister and ex-banker sought to kill rumors of a gay relationship outside his marriage to Brigitte Trogneux and push his campaign on.
“If you’re told I lead a double life with Mr Gallet it’s because my hologram has escaped,” Macron told supporters, referring to Radio France chief executive Mathieu Gallet.
A spokeswoman said the comments were “a clear denial of the rumors about his private life”.
It is Fillon’s campaign, though, that has been hit by scandal. On Monday he apologized for what he said was an error of judgment regarding the employment of family members, but said his wife’s work had been genuine and legal and vowed to fight on.
In a voter survey published on Tuesday, 65 percent of respondents polled after he made his comments said they still wanted him replaced as candidate of the center-right, a figure that will do little to soothe anxieties within his party, The Republicans.
Heaping more pressure on the center-right party, it emerged that a magistrate had ordered ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy to stand trial over election financing irregularities – a reminder of the party’s past brushes with financial scandal.

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