French election: Macron ‘most convincing’ in final debate

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French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron was more impressive than rival Marine Le Pen in Wednesday evening’s final TV debate, a viewers’ poll says.

The candidates traded insults for more than two hours, arguing over terrorism, the economy, and Europe.

The French broadcaster BFMTV found voters had a more favourable view of Mr Macron than Ms Le Pen in most categories.

He was the “most convincing” of the pair in the opinion of 63% of viewers.

Ms Le Pen lambasted her rival for his finance and government background, accusing him of being “the candidate of savage globalisation” and said his version of France “is a trading room, where it will be everyone fighting for themselves”.

Both candidates were hoping to make an impression on the estimated 18% of undecided voters in the first election the country has ever held without a candidate from the two traditional mainstream parties.

The second round run-off between the pair takes place on Sunday.

Constantly throughout the debate she threw insults and allegations at him, accusing him of being part of the discredited existing order.

But there was little substance to her attacks, and over and again Emmanuel Macron was able to expose the weaknesses in her arguments – especially over the economy and the euro.

The debate will have done nothing to alter his position as clear favourite in Sunday’s vote.

They also clashed on the future of the European Union, where they have clearly opposed views.

Ms Le Pen has said she would call for an in-out referendum on EU membership, and in recent days declared the euro currency finished.

During the debate, she said she would restore France’s national currency and give companies and banks an option on which currency to pay in – a proposal which Mr Macron labelled “nonsense”.

“How can a big company pay in euros on one hand and pay its employees in another currency?” he asked.

Wednesday night’s debate marked the last time the two candidates faced each other before Sunday’s vote.

Just two days of campaigning remain before reporting restrictions come into force late on Friday evening – and remain in place until polls close on Sunday.

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