In the TV duel before the French presidential election, Head of State Emmanuel Macron and challenger Marine Le Pen sometimes tackled each other harshly, but argued with factual arguments and without personal attacks. Central politician Macron, who is running for a second term, was initially more active in the debate and also acknowledged mistakes and omissions in the past term.
The duel, the only direct encounter between the two before the runoff next Sunday, revolved around four topics: the loss of purchasing power, which the right-wing candidate Le Pen identified early on as a campaign topic that was favorable for her; the war in Ukraine, the future of the social security systems and climate change.
Macron promised pension and minimum wage increases, and he also wants to cap gas and electricity prices. In addition, it is important to further reduce unemployment, a personal wage is the best way to strengthen purchasing power. Le Pen proposed reducing VAT on energy, including gasoline, from 20 percent to 5.5 percent – a proposal, however, that runs counter to EU rules, which so far do not include gasoline on the list of those products , for which a reduced VAT rate is permitted, such as for groceries. As far as groceries are concerned, Le Pen even wants to completely eliminate VAT on 100 basic everyday products.
Le Pen remained true to the role she played in the election campaign and presented herself as an advocate for ordinary French people. “I will be the president of the cost of living,” Le Pen said.
Macron emphasized France’s anchoring in the European Union and made a commitment to Franco-German cooperation. “I believe in Europe and I believe in the Franco-German couple. I think it’s the Franco-German couple that has enabled us to reach agreements.” The President accused Le Pen of wanting to leave the EU without saying so. Le Pen said there is no European sovereignty because there is no European people. “I defend the Europe of nations.” She doesn’t want to leave the EU, if that were the case she would say so. Yours is about changes in the Union.
Macron accuses Le Pen of being close to Putin
When it came to the issue of pensions, which has been the subject of repeated debates in France, Le Pen insisted on retiring at the age of 60 to 62. Anyone starting their career at the age of 16 to 20 should be able to retire at the age of 60, the other employees at the age of 62, as has been the case up to now. “Retirement at 65 is an absolute injustice,” Le Pen said of Macron’s plan for a higher retirement age. Macron emphasized that a pension from the age of 65 should not apply to all employees, with the exception of people in particularly strenuous jobs. In view of an increased life expectancy, the pension system must be counter-financed.
Macron accused his competitor of being dependent on its President Vladimir Putin, with a view to her previously openly flaunted proximity to Russia. Le Pen’s party received a loan from a Russian bank in 2014. Le Pen was also received by Putin in Moscow shortly before the 2017 elections. The head of the Rassemblement National (RN) defended the loan from Russia, since no loan was available in France at the time. In addition, this transaction did not affect their independence in any way.
The 53-year-old has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a clear violation of international law. At the same time, she wants to work for a rapprochement between NATO and Russia if the Ukraine war is over and a peace treaty is in place. The right-wing candidate, who accuses Macron of “blindness towards Berlin”, wants to terminate the arms cooperation with Germany. In the TV debate, she also criticized Germany for an energy policy that she described as misguided because it had made the country “very dependent on Russian gas”. She agrees with the sanctions imposed on Russia: But stopping gas imports is out of the question for her: “That’s not the right method.”
Le Pen wants to react to climate change by regionalizing the French economy. Free world trade is responsible for a large part of the emissions. Macron accused his competitor of being a “climate skeptic”, she countered that Macron was a “climate hypocrite” who would unilaterally burden ordinary citizens with the costs of the changes.
Macron and Le Pen sat opposite each other in a TV duel before the 2017 presidential election, and the discussion was characterized by insults and personal attacks. Now Macron showed himself to be a listener who agreed with his opponent in some statements – but then tried to refute their conclusions or demands. Le Pen also focused on her opponent’s statements and attempted to refute a number of statements made by the President.
In surveys before the runoff election, Macron was clearly ahead in the voters’ favour. On average, he came up with 55.83 percent. This means that the race is less tight than polls had predicted prior to the first round of the presidential election.