Le Pen, Macron bring out the barbs in French presidential debate

French presidential candidates Marine Le Pen (L) of the far-right Front National Party and Emmanuel Macron (R) of the centrist En Marche ! movement pose together prior to Wednesday’s televised debate. Photo by Eric Feferberg/EPA/Pool

By Mike Bambach

Paris (UPI) French presidential candidates Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron traded barbs and insults for more than two hours Wednesday in their only head-to-head debate before Sunday’s runoff election.

Le Pen compared him to unpopular Socialist President François Hollande and Macron characterized her as an extremist without a plan.

Macron won the debate based on the results of an Elabe poll immediately following the debate — 63 percent of people surveyed said he was more convincing.

That’s consistent with recent polls that project Macron to win 60 percent of Sunday’s vote.

Le Pen appeared more combative, accusing Macron of being a puppet for German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “In any case,” she said, “France will be run by a woman — me or Madame Merkel.”

Macron derided Le Pen’s campaign as one of “fear and lies” as they clashed over the economy, security, and France’s place in the European Union.

Macron reaffirmed his support for the EU while Le Pen vowed to put France’s membership to a referendum.


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