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Roundup: Poll shows Macron more convincing in crucial debate ahead of French election

Xinhua, May 4, 2017 Adjust font size:

Presidency frontrunner Emmanuel Macron was more convincing for French voters than his far-right challenger Marine Le Pen in a tense and aggressive debate days ahead of the election, a poll showed on Thursday.

An Elabe snap survey for news channel BFMTV showed 63 percent of the questioned 1,314 viewers appreciated Macron's performance during a head-to-head televised debate, while Le Pen convinced 30 percent of views.

Two thirds of the people who voted for far-leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon in the first round on April 23 found Macron more convincing, and 58 percent of those who had endorsed conservative Francois Fillon said the former investment banker has dominated the face-off.

Not losing time, Le Pen opened the two and half hours' debate for millions of undecided voters with firing remarks, calling her rival "the candidate of savage globalization ... of precariousness, of social brutality, of the war of all against all."

She questioned Macron mockingly, "if you had the recipe against unemployment, why did not you benefit from (President Francois) Hollande? And if you do not have it, given your very bad results, you should not be candidate."

To strike back, Macron said "Listen, you've shown that you are not the candidate of subtlety, of the willingness for democratic, balanced and open debate. I expected nothing else."

"Your strategy is to say a lot of lies...You are the heir of a system that has thrived on the anger of the French for decades," he added.

As for the attack against him for allowing the sales of French companies to foreign investors, Macron said "Mme Le Pen, your strategy quite simply is to lie a lot ...You're mixing the files. You're not prepared."

In a tense and crucial debate, the two scrappy contenders exchanged virulent remarks over the national security, a tricky issue in a country where 230 people have been killed in terrorism-related attacks since 2015.

"You have no plan (on security) but you are indulgent with Islamic fundamentalism," Le Pen lashed at her rival.

Macron retorted that terrorism would be his priority if elected. "I will lead a fight against Islamic 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.

Speaking of Europe, the the euro skeptic Le Pen accused Macron of proposing a "project of fear," stressing that "the euro is the currency of bankers, not of the people."

Describing her as a "the high priestess of fear," the ex-economy minister accused Le Pen of proposing "fatal project" which would trigger "a war of currencies."

The two anti-establishment candidates also proposed opposite projects to boost the French economy and decrease joblessness, as Macron vowed to further simplify labor rules, lower charges and promote the eurozone, while Le Pen wanted to restore the national border and French currency in addition to an exit from the European Union.

They will meet in a second decisive round on Sunday. The latest ifop-Fiducial survey released on Wednesday showed Macron would defeat Le Pen by 60 percent against 40 percent. Endi