Presidential: a dense and muscular debate between Macron and Le Pen

Emmanuel Macron was pugnacious on Wednesday evening against a tenacious Marine Le Pen, during a dense and acerbic television debate, but courteous on the whole, where the two presidential candidates chained bitter exchanges on Russia, the economy, energy prices or even Europe and the climate, four days before the second round.

• Read also: France: Macron-Le Pen TV debate, face-to-face 5 years later

The outgoing president put his opponent on the defensive on several occasions, accusing him early in the evening of “depending on Russian power” and “on Mr. Putin” or even throwing at him during an exchange on the environment: “ You’re talking nonsense”.

“You were, I think, one of the first European politicians, as early as 2014, to recognize the result of the annexation of Crimea,” Macron denounced, referring to the annexation not recognized by the community. of the Ukrainian peninsula via Moscow.

“Why did you do it? (…) Because you depend on Russian power and you depend on Mr. Putin”, he added in an allusion to a loan of 9 million euros contracted in 2017 by the far-right party of Mrs Le Pen with a Russian bank.

“It’s false and it’s quite dishonest,” retorted her rival, saying that no French bank had granted her a loan at the time and that she had “no other dependence than repaying his loan. “I am an absolutely and totally free woman,” she said.

Europe “a joint ownership”

Europe, pensions, purchasing power, environment, climate, security, sailing: the subjects paraded, the accusations too.

“Your project is to leave the EU. You lie about the merchandise. Europe is a co-ownership, we cannot decide alone to rip out the facade”, accused for example Emmanuel Macron.

Mrs. Le Pen had just said that she wanted to “stay in the European Union”, but “deeply modify it to bring about a + European alliance of nations +”.

On purchasing power, the number one concern of the French according to the polls, the two adversaries clung to their respective proposals for incentives to increase salaries and bonuses, each accusing the other of making people believe that the increases will be “automatic “.

“You are not going to pay Mrs. Le Pen’s wages”. “Just like you are not going to do the Mr. Macron bonuses,” replied the two candidates, who faced each other for the first time on television since their televised duel in 2017.

The leader of the National Rally defended her proposal to freeze “employer contributions” in the event of a “10% increase in wages up to 3 times the minimum wage”.

“It is certainly a shortfall” for the state, but “it is not a direct expense,” assured Ms. Le Pen.

“It’s not Gérard Majax this evening Madame Le Pen”, “you never explain how you finance your projects, you are not honest with people”, attacked the president-candidate.

The two candidates also disagreed on the methods to protect purchasing power, in particular on energy, Emmanuel Macron defending the “shield” already in place and his “food voucher” project, Marine Le Pen advocating a reduction of VAT.

The candidates had exchanged a quick handshake and a brief smile upon their arrival on the set of TF1 and France 2, before immediately starting hostilities.

“Climatohypocrite”

“You say you are very good at economics, that companies love you, but there are 400 billion trade balance deficits, an absolute record,” said Ms. Le Pen attacking Emmanuel Macron’s balance sheet.

“You explain to us that you have made a lot of effort for the most modest, I what I see is that there are 400,000 additional poor people under your five-year term, we are in a country where there are 9.8 million poor,” she said.

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen also disagreed on the retirement age, which the head of state wants to gradually increase to 64 or 65 years old while the president of the RN wants to stay “between 60 and 62 years old” .

The two opponents have also spread their differences on ecology, Ms. Le Pen accusing Mr. Macron of being “climatohypocrite” while she was treated as “climatosceptic”.

During a more muscular exchange, Marine Le Pen joked about the fact that her opponent wanted to put wind turbines at sea “everywhere, on all the coasts, except in front of Le Touquet”, the seaside resort of Pas-de-Calais where the Macron couple has a second home. “Madame Le Pen…”, “Are you kidding?” Responded Emmanuel Macron with an outraged air.

On security, Ms. Le Pen spoke of “a real barbarism”, in particular because of “anarchic and massive immigration”, to which Emmanuel Macron replied that the French did not want “postures”.

The tone rose during an exchange on the veil that Ms. Le Pen wishes to “ban in the public space”. It would be “a betrayal of the French spirit and of what the Republic is”, replied Mr. Macron.

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