by WorldTribune Staff, May 4, 2017
Populist candidate Marine Le Pen, in a televised debate on May 3, referred to her centrist opponent Emmanuel Macron as a “smirking banker” who was firmly in the pocket of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“. . . The reality, you went to see Mrs. Merkel, you went to ask for her blessing because you planned to do nothing without her agreement,” Le Pen said. “It’s so true – what are you gonna do opposite Mrs. Merkel? You said I won’t be opposite her, I will be with her . . .”
Macron responded: “Of course, I want France to measure up to Germany . . .”
Le Pen shot back: “Let me tell you what happened – France will be led by a woman, it’ll be either me, or Mrs. Merkel. That’s the truth.”
The election is set for May 7.
The candidates clashed over their vision for France’s future in a debate that at times got very personal.
Macron called Le Pen a “parasite” and a liar, and Le Pen labeled him a “smirking banker” and – in a reference to his youthful looks – said: “You are young on the outside, but old on the inside.”
The sharpest exchange was over national security, a sensitive issue in a country where more than 230 people have been killed by Islamic terrorists since 2015, Reuters reported.
Le Pen accused Macron of being complacent in confronting terrorism. “You have no plan (on security) but you are indulgent with Islamist fundamentalism,” she said.
Macron retorted that terrorism would be his priority and accused Le Pen of offering false solutions.
“I will lead a fight against Islamist terrorism at every level. But what they are wanting, the trap they are holding out for us, is the one that you offer – civil war,” he said.
Le Pen played up Macron’s background as a former investment banker and economy minister, painting him as heir to the outgoing unpopular Socialist government and as the “candidate of globalization gone wild.”
Macron called Le Pen’s policy of abandoning the euro a fatal plan that would unleash a currency war, and he accused her of failing to offer solutions to France’s economic problems such as chronic unemployment.