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Le Pen, Macron touched Ukrainian issue in their TV debates
09:42, 4 May 2017
Le Pen, Macron touched Ukrainian issue in their TV debates

Le Pen, Macron face off in last French presidential TV debate

09:42, 4 May 2017

Reuters
 

French presidential candidates Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen faced off in a final televised debate last evening, ahead of voting on Sunday - a last chance to pitch their starkly differing views on Europe, immigration, the economy and French identity.

On Wednesday, May 3, in the final debate prior to Sunday's final round vote, far-right Marine Le Pen faced off in a feisty debate against centrist Emmanuel Macron.

Related: Overcoming inner populism: 3 economic lessons from elections in France

When the were next asked how they would interact with Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the 39-year-old Macron called for cooperation with Trump on intelligence sharing and counter-terrorism. Repudiating the anti-Americanism that often infected French foreign policy discourse, Macron stated unequivocally "we need America." On Putin, Macron was less positive. He called for "de-escalation" in Ukraine and Syria. But he claimed that where Le Pen would submit to Putin, he would stand firm.

Le Pen, who is 48, repeatedly convicted of hate speech, called for distance from the United States. And she lamented the morality of those who lecture leaders such as Putin. When Macron interrupted, Le Pen jumped at him. His response: "I'm interrupting you because you are saying stupid things." Le Pen continued. France's interests, she claimed, would be far better served by an unrestrained trading and diplomatic relationship with Russia. Interestingly, Le Pen also brought up Thatcher and Reagan, claiming their economic model has failed, another effort to attract far-left voters.

Related: EU triumph or chance for populists' revenge: Reverse side of French presidential elections

Macron sought again and again to dismantle Le Pen’s outsider persona, reminding French voters that her father had run for the presidency several times starting in 1974, before she ran for the first time in 2012, with similar, doomsayer tones.

Le Pen is at least 18 points behind rival Macron in every poll.

Related: Elections in France: Political proposals of candidates for presidency

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