World Bulletin / News Desk
French centrist Emmanuel Macron impressed more viewers than his far-right rival Marine Le Pen in a fiery TV debate, a poll found Thursday, underlining his status as the favourite for this weekend's presidential runoff.
A poll by French broadcaster BFMTV found that 63 percent of viewers thought Macron was the "most convincing" of the two, broadly mirroring the forecast result for the decisive election on Sunday.
The duel was billed as a confrontation between Macron's call for openness and pro-market reforms and Le Pen's France-first nationalism.
Le Pen branded the former economy minister and investment banker "the candidate of the elite" and the "darling of the system".
Macron responded by describing the 48-year-old scion of the National Front (FN) as "the heir of a system which has prospered from the fury of the French people for decades".
"The high priestess of fear is sitting before me," he said.
The 39-year-old frequently branded Le Pen a liar and even a "parasite of the system", who he said lived off the frustrations of France's stalled political system.
On Europe, Le Pen accused Macron of being "submissive" towards German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying: "France will be led by a woman, either me or Mrs Merkel."
She also accused Macron of an "indulgent attitude" towards Islamic fundamentalism and constantly sought to remind viewers of his role as a minister in unpopular President Francois Hollande's Socialist government.
But Macron was in combative form throughout, repeatedly portraying Le Pen's stance as simplistic, defeatist or dangerous and targeting her proposals to withdraw France from the euro in particular.
The euro policy "was the big nonsense of Marine Le Pen's programme," he said midway through the 140-minute debate.
Le Pen called the euro, shared by 19 countries in the European Union and blamed by some in France for a rise in prices, as "the currency of bankers, it's not the people's currency".
Like much of the French press, Le Monde said the debate had been "brutal" and "violent from start to finish".
Former Socialist prime minister Manuel Valls said Le Pen "showed her true face" in the debate and "it's worrying".Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Mayıs 2017, 12:13