Presidential debate heats up as candidates battle for power

New York [U.S.] May 4 : Days before the final French vote, candidates Emmanuel Macron, independent centrist, and Marine Le Pen from Front National clashed on live TV in a presidential debate.

The debate took a bitter turn as the candidates traded personal insults and clashed over how to fix the French economy, fight terrorism and debated over EU.

As the Guardian reported, Macron branded Le Pen an ill-informed, corrupt, dangerously nationalistic and "hate-filled" liar who "fed off France's misery" and would bring "civil war" to France.

She in turn called the former economy minister an arrogant, spoilt, cold-eyed, "smirking banker" who was colluding with Islamists, complacent on terrorism and intent on "butchering France" in favor of "big economic interests".

After a series of deadly attacks killed more than 230 people in France in just over two years, one of the key areas of debate between the candidates was terrorism.

Le Pen accused Macron of an "indulgent attitude" towards Islamic fundamentalism and said he was slack on fighting extremism.

Macron stated an "uncompromising" view on terrorism and questioned why many of the extremist were born and raised in France.

Le Pen, retorted that Macron was lax on Islamism and disregarded French secularism and restated her plan to ban religious symbols from all public places, which would include the Muslim headscarf.

The debate also turned towards EU, on which both the candidates held opposing views. Le Pen cleared her intent to hold a referendum on France leaving the EU, and Macron, wanted a closer cooperation.

Le Pen stated that Macron as president would allow France to be crushed by its economically powerful neighbor Germany.

On economic growth, both candidates again sparred. Le Pen wanted a closed border France and prioritized French people over foreigners for jobs, housing and benefits.

She planned to turn away from the European Union and abandon free-trade deals. Macron on the other hand wanted to increase European Union cooperation and stated that France cannot escape the globalized world.

He planned to loosen strict labor regulations and reform the eurozone with a common budget. Both claimed to be anti-establishment candidates who aimed to reinvent French politics. Polls conducted before the TV debate showed Macron favored by 60% to 40% before the approaching final-round vote.

Source: ANI