As financial police are reported to search French presidential candidate Francois Fillon's office in parliament, nerves over the upcoming election are increasingly on edge - despite better readings recently on the economy. David Pollard reports.
As France's politicians nail their colours to the wall, Francois Fillon finds himself up against one. The offices of a front-runner in the presidential race reportedly searched on Tuesday. An inquiry into his wife's income making Fillon a victim, according to his supporters. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FROM THE REPUBLICANS PARTY, ERIC CIOTTI, SAYING: "He is the target, because he is going to win the presidential election. So the attacks are coming from all angles." The economy appears unperturbed. Unemployment is high and growth below target - but at 0.4 per cent in Q4, double what it was in Q3. SOUNDBITE (English) OANDA SENIOR MARKET ANALYST, CRAIG ERLAM, SAYING: "We are seeing signs of improvement in things like the PMI data. We are seeing signs of improvement in things like the inflation data etc." But take Fillon out of the race, and it puts others further ahead in it. National Front leader Marine Le Pen preaching a euro-sceptic creed which could, according to new polls, win her the first round in April. As the headlines warn, anything can happen .... (SOUNDBITE) (English) CIBC, HEAD OF FX STRATEGY, JEREMY STRETCH, SAYING: "Whilst we can argue that those European politicians over the last couple of decades have been anchored and wedded to the European project, clearly Le Pen is not. And I think if were to get either France or Germany at the heart of the European project moving away from those designs, then I think it would be hugely damaging for the euro as a concept. But I think in the shorter term, investors would certainly vote with their feet and I think that would be potentially damaging for France and/or particularly for Europe." Le Pen's seen as unlikely to repeat that performance in the second round. Emmanuel Macron's centrist message also fast gaining ground. The uncertainty though, enough to worry Credit Suisse - which has just labelled the French election as currently Europe's 'greatest existential threat'.