MS Risk Blog

French Presidential Election: Macron Clashes with Le Pen During Televised Debate

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Centrist Emmanuel Macron has kept his position as favourite to win France’s presidential election after a televised debate on Tuesday night, during which he clashed with his main rival, Marine Le Pen, over Europe. The debate comes just nineteen days before the election.

Criticising Ms Le Pen, the leader of the National Front (FN) who wants to leave the euro, hold a referendum on European Union (EU) membership and curb immigration, Mr Macron stated, “nationalism is war. I know it. I come from a region that is full of graveyards.” Mr Macron, who has voiced his strong pro-European views, comes from the Somme region, which was a major battlefield during World War One. Ms Le Pen however hit back at Mr Macron, stating “you should pretend to be something new when you are speaking like old fossils that are at lest 50 years old,” to which Mr Macron replied “sorry to tell you this, Madame Le Pen, but you are saying the same lies that we’ve heard from your father for 40 years.” The comment appeared to be a swipe at Le Pen’s efforts to clean up the image of the party that her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, founded and to make it more palatable to mainstream voters.

According to a snap survey, Mr Macron was seen as having the best political programme, with the survey also placing him as the second most convincing performer in the four-hour debate, which involved all eleven presidential candidates. The Elabe snap poll, which was tkane when the debate ended in the early hours of Wednesday, gave firebrand leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon, a veteran of France’s political circuit, first place as the most convincing performer. Ms Le Pen lagged in fourth place, behind Mr Macron and Francois Fillon. Mr Macron was also seen in the same poll as having the best programme of all the candidates by 23 percent of viewers, followed by Melenchon, whose ratings have been rising since the first televised debate in March, to the detriment of Socialist Party candidate Benoit Hamon.

While the Elabe poll did not show voting intentions, other surveys have consistently shown Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen qualifying for the 7 May runoff, with Mr Macron ultimately winning the presidential election. However the high level of undecided voters means that the ballot remains unpredictable.

It currently remains unclear if a final televised debate, due to take place on 20 April, will occur after several of the leading candidates have disclosed that it is being held too close to the election itself, with the first round of voting due to take place on 23 April.

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