May 26, 2022

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Macron and Le Pen clash over Russia and the EU in furious TV debate

Macron and Le Pen clash over Russia and the EU in furious TV debate

  • Snap poll suggests Macron saw more convincing
  • Macron lends Russia bank loan from Le Pen’s party
  • Discussion only before the run-off election
  • Le Pen “to return the money” to French

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday accused far-right rival Marine Le Pen of enslaving Russian President Vladimir Putin over a year-old Russian bank loan to her party during a fiery televised debate ahead of it. Sunday elections.

While Le Pen was also accused of harboring an undiminished desire to withdraw France from the European Union, she responded by pledging to return the money to the pockets of millions of French who had become impoverished during his five-year presidency.

The debate – the only one of their campaign – was filled with calls to “don’t boycott me” and other accusations were not up to the leadership of France, the veto-wielding member of the United Nations Security Council and Europe’s second-largest economy. . Read more

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“Stop mixing everything up,” said the militant Macron during one of the heated exchanges over France’s debt, which has ballooned like others due to measures to support epidemics.

“Don’t lecture me,” Le Pen, who avoided the pitfalls of a previous meeting in 2017, responded when her presidential bid unraveled as she mixed up her notes and lost standing.

For Le Pen, who trails Macron in voter polls by 56-44, the debate was an opportunity to convince voters that she has the standing to be president, and that they should not be afraid to see the far right in power.

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A quick poll by BFM TV showed that 59% of respondents found Macron the more persuasive of the two, but it was not clear how that translated into Sunday’s voting intentions. Read more

Macron’s strongest line of attack was on a loan to her party in his 2017 campaign contracted through a Russian bank.

“You depend on Russian power, and you depend on Mr. Putin,” Macron told his opponent.

“A lot of your choices can be explained by this dependence,” he said in an attack on Le Pen’s political positions, which he said still include a “project he does not dare to speak for” to withdraw France from the 27-nation European Union.

Le Pen, who has softened her staunchly anti-EU rhetoric as part of a bid to broaden her electoral appeal, dismissed the accusation of wanting to leave the European Union and being politically jeopardized by the Russian bank loan.

“I am a completely free and independent woman,” she said.

room temperature charter

With unemployment at a 13-year low, Macron said he was proud of creating jobs during his tenure, adding: “The best way to gain purchasing power is to fight unemployment.”

The two candidates continued to accuse each other of failing to respond to voters’ real concerns, with Le Pen saying her proposals “in real life” would improve voters’ conditions far more than her opponent.

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“I will make it my absolute priority for the next five years to return the money of the French,” Le Pen said, adding that the French had “suffered” throughout Macron’s tenure.

The election presents voters with two opposing visions of France: Macron presents a liberal pro-European platform, while Le Pen’s nationalist manifesto is founded on deep suspicions of Europe.

Much haggling went on behind the scenes before the discussion, from room temperature to coin flipping to decide what topic to start with – the cost of living – for who would speak first – Le Pen.

With both candidates dismissing the other’s plans as unrealistic but not scoring any clear knockouts, it may not be clear what effect the debate will have on voters.

A poll conducted by OpinionWay-Kea Partners for Les Echos newspaper showed that only 14% of voters were waiting for a debate to decide who they would vote for, while 12% said it would be crucial to whether they voted at all.

However, after more than half of voters voted for far-right or far-left candidates in the first round on April 10, Macron’s lead in opinion polls was much narrower than it was five years ago, when he beat Le Pen by 66.1%. vote.

Since then, Le Pen has at least partially succeeded in attracting mainstream voters while Macron is no longer the same foreign-policy disruptor as he was in the 2017 debate, which at the time cemented his place as the clear frontrunner.

(Additional reporting by Michel Rose, Elizabeth Pinault, Tassilo Hamel, and Lily Frodi.) Ingrid Melander and Richard Love; Written by Ingrid Melander and Mark John; Editing by Alex Richardson, Sandra Mahler and Aurora Ellis

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