PARIS – The Latest on France's presidential election (all times local):
The National Front party of far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is rejoicing over the decision by Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, a conservative who was eliminated in the first round of voting, to back her campaign.
Florian Philippot, a National Front vice president, told BFM television on Saturday that the new alliance is "excellent news" and "a turning point in this campaign."
Dupont-Aignan got nearly 1.7 million votes in the April 23 first-round ballot — 4.7 percent of the total.
But Dupont-Aignan's switch to Le Pen split his party, "Stand up France," prompting the departure of a vice president, Dominique Jamet.
Jamet told BFM that that Stand up France was losing its "purity" by backing the National Front and that the Le Pen-Dupont-Aignan alliance is "a couple that doesn't please me."
French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron is hunting for votes in rural areas of France where his far-right opponent, Marine Le Pen, has made inroads among people who feel left behind, with difficult access to public services, mobile phone connections and other modern conveniences.
In a radio interview on Saturday, the centrist Macron said that if elected, his government would intervene directly if mobile operators fail within 18 months to install high-speed fiber optic and phone networks "everywhere."
"I will give them 18 months to finish these deployments, be it fiber optic or 3G/4G," he said. "If at the end of these 18 months, they have not fulfilled their responsibility, the state will substitute itself in their place to do this, within the framework of the investment plan I've decided."