Macron attacks Le Pen for her Russian links as the vote looms

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, attacked Marine Le Pen, his far-right opponent, Wednesday for her ties with Russia. He used a TV debate to judge her suitability to lead France and to deal with Moscow while he trawls for votes to win another 5-year term.

Macron attacks Le Pen for her Russian links as the vote looms

Macron attempted to paint his opponent as fundamentally untrustworthy in their only encounter before Sunday's winner takes all vote. He accused her of dishonesty, and used faulty figures in her election promises.

In turn, she tried to appeal to voters who were struggling to make ends meet due to rising prices and the fallout from Russia's war in Ukraine. Le Pen stated that lowering the cost of living would be her top priority if she is elected France's first female president. She portrayed herself as the candidate for those who are struggling to make ends meet.

Five years after Macron beat Le Pen by a narrow margin, the debate brought out the stark gulf between politics and character of the two candidates vying to win the presidency.

According to polls, Macron, a proeuropean centrist, is leading Le Pen, an antiimmigration nationalist by a significant margin. However, the result is likely to be closer than five-years ago. Both candidates are trying to win votes from electors who did not support them in the first round of the election on April 10.

Le Pen declared, "I am different from you", as they clashed over France's energy requirements.

Macron stated, "You're not like me." "Thanks for reminding me."

Le Pen was especially scathing in his criticism of the 2014 loan that Le Pen's party took out from a Russian-Czech banking bank. He stated that debt meant that Le Pen's hands were tied when dealing with Russia.

Macron said, "You are talking to your banker when speaking of Russia," during the primetime evening debate expected to be seen by millions.

"You made a decision that, evidently, restricted your political position. It does not make you an independent person on this issue. Macron stated that this is a fact.

Macron's suggestion that Le Pen is dependent on Russia was a resounding rejection by Le Pen. She called herself "totally unattached" and said that her party was repaying the loan. She also called Macron "dishonest for raising the matter."

Hours before Wednesday's debate, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was imprisoned and stepped into French presidential campaign to urge voters to support Macron. He also claimed that Le Pen is too closely tied to Russia.

From the April 10th round, Macron was ahead. Le Pen, however, who taps into anger over inflation this year, has made a significant improvement in the gap in public support, compared to 2017, which saw her lose with 34% to Macron's 66%.

Both candidates had been meticulously prepared for Wednesday's debate. Le Pen had an unlucky start. She was chosen to speak first and began talking just before the opening jingle of the debate ended. She had to stop because the music was making it difficult for her to speak. She offered her apology.

Macron quickly placed Le Pen on defense once the jousting started. Macron focused on Le Pen's voting record as a lawmaker, and asked her about her understanding of economic figures.

A similar debate in 2017 dealt a devastating blow to her campaign.

Both candidates must gain more support before Sunday's election. Many French, particularly on the left, don't know if they will vote.


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