The far-right Front National candidate Marine Le Pen and the independent centrist Emmanuel Macron insulted one each other as they argued over how to fix the sluggish French economy and fight terrorism. The heated debate was taking place in a live TV presidential debate.
The two candidates shared insults days before the final vote this weekend. The two-and-a-half-hour debate featured more criticism than any other debate in French presidential history. Macron branded Le Pen an ill-informed, corrupt, dangerously nationalistic and hate-filled liar who fed off France’s misery and would bring civil war to France.
In response, Le Pen called the former economy minister an arrogant, spoilt, cold-eyed, smirking banker who was colluding with Islamists, complacent on terrorism and intent on butchering France in favor of big economic interests.
The two candidates accused each other of taking French people for imbeciles. More than 15 million people watched the debate although the viewing figures said 16 .5 million people watched the debate. Polling by Elabe for BFM television accused Macron of lies and aggression, the poll also found that a clear majority felt that Macron had been the most convincing.
Macron was declared the winner of a dirty debate by the French media on Thursday. Meanwhile, Le Pen has criticised for her permanent aggression and even normally sympathetic publications found her unconvincing.
The debate was heavier on insults than policy detail. Majority of viewers lost count of the times Macron mocked Le Pen’s recourse to her notes and slammed her for talking nonsense. Le Pen responded back that Macron was arrogant and babyish.
Macron told Le Pen that her strategy was simply to tell a lot of lies and just to say what isn’t going right in the country. In response, Le Pen said that he favored uncontrolled globalization and would sell off state assets to the highest bidder. Le Pen was under pressure to expound on her policy proposals, she, however, spent more time attacking Macron and the record of the outgoing Socialist government.
Another key issue was terrorism. This is after a series of deadly attacks killed more than 230 people in France in just over two years. Le Pen accused Macron of an indulgent attitude towards Islamic fundamentalism and said he was slack on fighting extremism.
Le Pen said that Macron was lax on Islamism and disregarded French secularism. She restated her plan to ban religious symbols from all public places, which would include the Muslim headscarf. Macron warned that her proposals would divide France and lead to a civil war, adding that’s what terrorists want.
In regard to the European Union, the candidates could not have been further apart. Le Pen, who wants to hold a referendum on France leaving the EU, and Macron, who wants closer cooperation, traded more insults on the subject.
Le Pen said Macron as president would allow France to be crushed by its economically powerful neighbor Germany, adding that he would lie helplessly before Berlin. This week’s polls that were conducted before the TV debate showed Macron leading by 60% to 40% before the final-round vote on Sunday.
Macron intends to increase European Union cooperation and says France cannot escape the globalized world. He intends to loosen strict labor regulations and reform the eurozone with a common budget.
Marine Le Pen wants France to have closed borders and to prioritize French people over foreigners for jobs, housing, and benefits, to send illegal immigrants home, to turn away from the European Union and to abandon free-trade deals.