French presidential debate: Le Pen comes under fire from rivals

Cheryl Sanders
April 2, 2017

As former president François Mitterrand wrote in 1953 (p. 80), French people like Le Pen will come to learn that 'the France of the 21st century will be African or nothing at all.' Despite the isolationist wishes of her voter base, France still reaps big from its strategic web of political, economic, and military ties with African nations.

Financial markets, which are allergic to Le Pen's anti-euro rhetoric, came to the same conclusion, displaying relief after a snap poll showed Macron was the most convincing contender. "She is running a very good campaign with a very clear and strong message", he says. When it moved onto immigration and secularism, it became tonic with vitriolic exchanges between the two front-runners - Macron and Le Pen.

Macron was seen winning the presidency by beating Le Pen in the May 7 runoff with 65 percent of the vote to 35 percent for the National Front leader, unchanged from two weeks ago.

Fillon has seen his support slide since being accused of using hundreds of thousands of euros in public money to pay his wife for work she may have not done. Macron on the other hand, is a newcomer who has been accused of being too vague on his policies.

"Like Brexit (and in the US), voter turnout is key".

Will three and half hours of historic and often belligerent debate live on TV between five French presidential candidates actually change anything?

Francois Fillon, France's center-right candidate had concerns over Le Pen's populism, saying, "The real serial killer for French spending power is Mrs. Le Pen with her plans to exit the Euro and restore the franc: that would spark run away inflation".

Bernard Poignant, a close adviser to Hollande, also told Reuters he was backing Macron.

Paris: French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has solidified his status as frontrunner in France's election in a marathon televised debate on Monday when he clashed on immigration and Europe with his main rival, far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

A high abstention rate could benefit Le Pen as polls consistently show that her supporters are the most certain of their vote.

French people's outlook on globalisation is one of the most pessimistic in the world: 33% think that opening their country's economy to foreign companies and the global market is a threat, while 67% people think their country is in decline.

Mr Macron said French border security should be strengthened and called for an "effective expulsion policy" to remove people in the country illegally.

The campaign, the most unpredictable presidential race in decades, has thrown up two outsiders as the current front runners: Liberal economist Emmanuel Macron and far-right populist Marine Le Pen.

The debate will be the first time in history that French voters get an opportunity to compare the leading candidates before the first round as the frontrunners share the stage with the candidates now in third and fourth place, Francois Fillon of the right and Benoit Hamon of the left, along with the far-left Jean-Luc Melenchon.

The debate - which lasted nearly three-and-a-half hours - is the first of three ahead of the first round vote on April 23rd.

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