French President Appears To Be A Front Runner in Key Elections

French President Emmanuel Macron and his rival Marine Le Pen at France 2 studio during the presidential debate.
French President Emmanuel Macron and his rival Marine Le Pen at France 2 studio during the presidential debate. (AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron cleared a major hurdle on the path to re-election.


French President Emmanuel Macron regain position of a front runner after the debate with her counter-candidate Marine Le Pen that convinced most viewers, a poll said, even if he was still deemed arrogant.

Although Madame Le Pen came across as more polished and composed than in a TV duel for the presidency in 2017, Mr. Macron went on the offensive over her ties to Russian leadership, her plans for the economy and her policy for the European Union.

Voter surveys have shown a widening of Macron’s lead over Le Pen to as much as 56 per cent - 44 per cent since the first round on April 10, and analysts said the debate was unlikely to swing voting intentions in Madame Le Pen’s favour.

Yes, Emmanuel Macron won but his adversary has avoided a repeat of last time’s disaster, Mr. Gerard Araud, a former French ambassador stated. This debate does not disqualify her like the one in 2017, but it doesn’t help her close the gap either, he added.

On the offensive for most of the debate, Macron’s most piercing line of attack was on a loan to Madame Le Pen’s party for her 2017 campaign contracted through a Russian bank.

You talk about your banker when you talk about Russia, that’s the problem, Macron told his opponent. You depend on Russian power, you depend on Mr. Putin, he emphasised.

On the cost of living, rated the most important issue for the French in this election, Mr. Macron also appeared to put Madame Le Pen on the defensive, asking her why she had voted against his plans to cap electricity prices if she wanted to help hard-up workers.

Mr. Macron 'arrogant' but Madame Le Pen 'scary'

An Elabe snap opinion poll on each candidate’s personal characteristics showed 50 per cent of the French thought Macron had come across as arrogant during the debate, while only 16 per cent thought Madame Le Pen had.

Madame Le Pen also appeared marginally more in tune with regular citizens, with 37 per cent of viewers saying she sounded closer to people’s concerns, while only 34 per cent thought Ms. Macron did.

Mr. Macron’s mastery of policy details made him look more “presidential”, the same Elabe poll showed, while she failed to convince a majority of viewers she was fit to govern.

Each of them has a huge weakness, Mr. Bernard Sananes of pollster Elabe said. Emmanuel Macron is considered arrogant by more than one in two viewers. And Marine Le Pen remains scary for half of them, he added.

Go back