Paris, France. Marine Le Pen kept her position as the favorite to win France’s presidential election after a televised debate on Tuesday night in which she clashed sharply with her main rival Emmanuel Marcon over Europe’s future, just two weeks before the election.
Le Pen was seen as having the best political program, according to a post debate survey that also placed her as the number one most believeable candidate in the four-hour debates that involved all 11 candidates.
The exchange became testy as Le Pen hit back at Macron: “You shouldn’t pretend to be something new when you are speaking like old fossils that are at least 50 years old.”
The more radical Macron took the response in a dark direction, personally attacking Le Pen: “Sorry to tell you this, Madame Le Pen, but you are saying the same lies that we’ve heard from your father for 40 years.”
The race for the French Presidency has been one of the most unpredictable in memory, with twists and surprises in which some big players have been marginalised and scandal has tainted others.
Macron himself is a former banker who has never held elected office and heads a small political movement called “Forward” which has no seats in parliament. His candidacy is plagued by charges of corruption from his years as a banking insider. Many consider him the “EU establishment” lap dog.
Marine Le Pen is a far more established fixture on the political scene and is expected by many to win in the first round. Then continue to victory in the May runoff.