FRANCE VOTE: Macron Seen Winner of Final TV Debate

–63% of Viewers Found Him More Convincing

PARIS (MNI) – Emmanuel Macron, the centrist front-runner in France’s presidential election, was seen as the winner of Wednesday night’s debate against his far-right rival Marine Le Pen, according to a snap poll.

The polling firm Elabe said that 63% of viewers it surveyed found that Macron put in a “more convincing” performance in a bruising three-hour confrontation between the the two candidates.

Le Pen, trailing in the polls by 20 percentage points, took the offensive against Macron right from the start, accusing him of being the candidate of a globalized economy that put French jobs in danger.

“Mr. Macron is the candidate of savage globalization, Uberization, insecurity, social brutality and the war of everybody against everybody else,” Le Pen said in her opening statement.

For his part, Macron accused Le Pen of offering a “defeatist spirit” in which France needed to be protected from global competition. He said she deliberately distorted his program to cover up the lack of specific proposals of her own in many areas.

“Talk about your plan, don’t say nonsense about mine,” Macron said at one stage in the debate. “Your strategy is to say a lot of lies.”

The debate, expected to be watched by as many as 20 million viewers in a country of 47 million registered voters, was seen as Le Pen’s last chance to close the gap with Macron. The latest polls show Macron winning the second round vote on Sunday by roughly 60% to 40%.

As expected, the two candidates clashed sharply on the euro, as Le Pen’s long-standing proposal to ditch single currency has been clouded by confusion in recent days. During the debate she specified that the single currency would continue to be used by central banks and companies while French citizens would return to using the franc.

“The euro is the currency of bankers, it is not the money of the people,” Le Pen said.

Macron responded that any plan for France to leave the euro was a “a deadly and dangerous project.”

–MNI Paris Bureau; tel: +33 1-42-71-55-41; email: jack.duffy@marketnews.com

Source: MNI

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