Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen ramped up their campaign with a frantic schedule of last-minute visits to lure floating voters, as France’s contested presidential race enters its final hours.
And while voting takes place on Sunday, under French election rules, all campaigning and polling must end by midnight Friday, on Thursday the two candidates scrambled to press in time for the road.
Le Pen headed to Arras, in its northern stronghold, for a rally as Macron entered a more hostile area in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, where radical left-wing leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon scored more than 60% of the vote. The first round of voting Almost two weeks ago.
On Wednesday night, the two candidates participated in a party Almost three hours of discussion From which Macron emerged narrowly victorious, but is unlikely to have changed the intentions of many voters, with the president accused of being arrogant, and Le Pen of lacking credibility as a potential leader.
At the rally, Le Pen revisited the previous evening’s showdown, criticizing her opponent. “I had in front of me Emmanuel Macron who was so self-confident, so despised, so arrogant, including in his posture. This didn’t surprise any French, I think,” she said.
The far-right candidate said Macron’s re-election would lead to “social devastation”. “It will no longer be tied to anything…it will be worse than the first mandate,” she said. “I will explain to them [the French] Another option is possible. They should vote by listening to their mind and heart.”
Macron was greeted by the socialist mayor of Saint-Denis, Matteo Hanutin, who called on voters, unlike others on the left, to support Macron on Sunday.
The president denied Le Pen’s accusations. “When you have no more arguments to contend with [the issues] “You have to look for something else,” he said.
Macron said the discussion was “respectful” but that “the lady says a lot of strange things, between you and me”.
He added, “I think things are now clear to people. There is a project to promote Europe …and a project that means the end of Europe.”
He said Le Pen’s program was “inaccurate,” and questioned how she would fund it.
“Our citizens will make their decision on Sunday. Until the last minute, nothing was decided,” he said.
Macron has promised more investment in poor areas like Saint-Denis, including increasing funding for schools and helping disadvantaged youth find work.
If Le Pen wins on Sunday, Hanoutin said, it would be a “disaster” for poor and socially mixed regions such as Saint-Denis. We must focus on how to mobilize to choose the republic next Sunday. That is why I supported Mr Macron despite our differences.”
Wednesday face marathon Among the candidates it was considered a defining moment before Sunday’s vote. It was a rematch in a television debate in 2017, during which the far-right leader became aggressive. This time Le Pen remained calm, although she still occasionally faltered. Le Monde likened Macron to the handicap of a snake, as he slowly pressed his opponent to death.
The Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanen, said the discussion had been generally satisfactory. If the presidential campaign itself disappoints, here we have seen the choice between two types Francetwo different visions,” he told Europe 1 radio.
Jordan Bardella, head of Le Pen’s National Rally, accused Macron of being “the number one shooter of public humiliation,” adding: “When he insults Marine Le Pen As his supporters do, he really insults the French.”
The Minister for Europe, Clément Bonn, accused Le Pen of seeking to surreptitiously organize Frexit. In this topic it was clear that Marine Le Pen She didn’t have a project and she just cut Frixite into smaller pieces.”
Gabriel Atal, a government spokesman, said Le Pen had “changed her style but not her substance”. He accused her of wanting to “divide the French”, echoing Macron’s accusations that her proposal to ban Islamic headscarves in public places would cause a “civil war” in the city’s outskirts.
About 15.6 million people watched the debate, down from 16.6 million in 2017. The figure did not include those who watch online.
Elabe pollsters questioned viewers after the discussion and declared that 59% found Macron more persuasive, compared to Le Pen’s 39%. Among supporters of Melenchon, whose 7.7 million voters are chasing the two remaining candidates, the poll found 61% considered Macron convincing versus Le Pen’s 36%. Only 29% of those questioned felt that the far-right leader had demonstrated “the qualities necessary to be president”.
Macron was seen as more dynamic, a little more honest and had a better program than Le Pen’s. Half considered Macron to be more arrogant than his rival, while Le Pen was considered “worrying” by about half.
Le Monde concluded that the debate was again a failure for Le Pen. “Did she give the impression that she was ready to rule?” asked Le Parisien in an editorial. This is the only question that matters. Judging by debate, doubts were not dispelled.” Le Figaro said the debate was not to change the voters’ intentions.
poll from Opinion It took place after the debate that suggested Macron could win Sunday’s vote by 56% to 44%, a wider gap than expected before the confrontation.
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