On Wednesday, President Emmanuel Macron faced closest opposition rival Marine Le Pen and emerged as the frontrunner. The marathon face off, lasting two hours and 45-minutes took place on TV, on Wednesday evening. The final verdict by both the public and political pundits was that Macron led the debate. About 15.6 million watched the debate, not including those who watched it online. Pollsters Elabe reported that 59 percent of the viewers said that Macron was more convincing while 39 percent said the same of Le Pen.
Another positive result for Macron came from supporters of Jean-Luc Melenchon. Both Macron and Le Pen have been appealing to his supporters for support after he dropped out of the presidential race. The Elaba poll showed that 61 percent of his political base found Macron to be convincing while 29 percent said that Le Pen who represents the far right had “the most qualities necessary to be the president”, according to a report in The Guardian. Incidentally Jean-Luc Melenchon is a leader of the radical left in France and has 7.7 million voters who support him, as per the outlet.
Newspapers in France also said Emmanuel Macron was more convincing as Le Monde termed the debate as a “failure” for Le Pen, while Le Parisien said that “she did not dispel the doubts” after the debate. Le Figaro said that “the debate would not have changed voters’ intentions”, as per the report in The Guardian.
Emmanuel Macron went on the offensive as he attacked Le Pen’s ties with the Russian leadership and for taking a Russian bank loan for RN, her party. He also reminded her that she was among the first few political leaders who recognized Russia’s annexation of Crimea, in 2014. She said that they were unable to get loans from French banks.
He also questioned her plans on the economy. Macron argued about the efficacy of the policies his administration had already put in place. These proposals had already been enacted to protect French citizens from inflation. He mentioned that the cap on fuel prices as well as tax exemptions for pay bonuses had been much fairer as well as more effective than the ideas that had been proposed by Madame Le Pen. He challenged her proposals and called them not workable. Marine Le Pen didn’t say much on the burning issue of unemployment that is running through France.
Emmanuel Macron also attacked her policy on the European Union. There have been major reports that Marine Le Pen was looking at Frexit, similar to Brexit, which became a plank for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to cement his position in the U.K. She said that she was seeking change from within it (The European Union) but Macron argued that her idea would bring an end to the EU and said that she was “selling a lie.”
Some analysts say that Brexit has not delivered what it promised, at least as of now. France is more closely connected to the European Union than the U.K. ever was, both geographically and culturally and the prospect of a Frexit, is unpopular in France, which has made the far-right party and its leader tone down its earlier proposal of leaving the EU.
Other topics in the debate between presidential candidates Monsieur Emmanuel Macron and Madame Marine Le Pen included climate change and immigration.
Macron has put forth proposals to spend more on green energy. He called Le Pen “a climate sceptic” while Marine Le Pen called him “a climate hypocrite.” However, both of them agreed that France had to build more nuclear plants.
Madame Le Pen said that she would enforce a controversial policy that bans women from wearing an Islamic headscarf called the Hijab, in public. Monsieur Macron said that he sincerely felt that she would cause a “civil war” if she did that.
This is a pivotal moment for France and the two presidential candidates: Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. The winner will be decided after Sunday. All indications are that Emmanuel Macron will be the President of France, once again, although there is a faction of voters who are undecided. However, the official results will come in, only after Sunday, April 24 when the nation will vote for its next president.