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Pro-EU centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen face off in a final televised debate on 03 May that will showcase their starkly different visions of France's future ahead of this weekend's presidential election run-off. EPA/ERIC FEFERBERG / POOL
Pro-EU centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen face off in a final televised debate on 03 May that will showcase their starkly different visions of France's future ahead of this weekend's presidential election run-off. EPA/ERIC…

Heating Up: Macron and Le Pen clash in TV debate ahead of France election

 The two presidential candidates of France, the socio-liberal Emmanuel Macron and the far right Marine Le Pen, held a brutal televised debate on Wednesday…

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The two presidential candidates of France, the socio-liberal Emmanuel Macron and the far right Marine Le Pen, held a brutal televised debate on Wednesday evening, three days before the presidential runoff elections on May 7.

France has never before experienced such a harsh debate between the two candidates for the Elysee, like the one between Le Pen and Macron on Wednesday.

It was the first time that a far-right candidate took part in a face-to-face presidential runoff since the 2002 elections, when Jean-Marie Le Pen, her father, stood against Jacques Chirac.

Polls held immediately afterwards suggest that the far right candidate lost the debate.

Le Pen opened the debate by directly attacking her rival, calling him the candidate of "the world of finance" and the heir to the current government and calling herself "the candidate of the people."

Macron hit back by saying Le Pen is a "parasite" and a liar. The debate continued without sparing insults.

Le Pen struggled to link Macron with the failures of the policies conducted so far in France, clinging to the fact that he was the economy minister between 2014 and 2016.

She accused the European Union of impeding the economic development of France and proposed her recipes of patriotism and nationalization; her main campaigning policies which allowed her to reach the runoff round, 15 years after her father did in 2002.

Macron considered her policies unreal and proposed reforming the country to make it more competitive, while pledging to promote a Europe that protects its citizens.

The debate reached its peak when the candidates spoke of the fight against terrorism. The far-right candidate accused Macron of "being complacent with Islamic fundamentalism," to which the socio-liberal responded that extremists want nothing more than the victory of Le Pen because, in his view, "they seek radicalization and civil war", to which Le Pen leads the country.

For Macron, leaving the Eurozone would lead to a loss of competitiveness of the French economy and this would increase the country's debts.

The far right leader responded that Macron is under the influence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, claiming at the end of the debate that it does not matter who wins the Sunday elections because "France will be led by a woman - either me or Merkel."

Macron also said that Le Pen is the candidate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, to which she replied that France should be "equidistant" between Russia and the US. 

 

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