The center-right candidate and French president Emmanuel Macron, left, and far-right contender Marine Le Pen sit in a televised debate in La Plaine-Saint- Denis, outside Paris on April 20, 2022. LUDOVIC MARIN, PARIS French President Emmanuel Macron cleared a major hurdle on the path to re-election with a combative TV debate performance against the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen that convinced most viewers, even if he was still deemed arrogant.
Macron was on the offensive over her ties to Russian leadership, her plans for the economy and her policy for the European Union, although Le Pen came across as more polished and composed than in a TV duel for the presidency in 2017.
With the deciding vote just four days away, some 59 percent of viewers think Macron is the most convincing candidate in the debate, according to a snap poll for BFM TV. That suggested that the three-hour showdown would not affect the course of the election, with Macron ahead in all previous polls.
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The debate is unlikely to swing votes in Le Pen's favor, according to the polls showing Macron's lead over Le Pen to 56 percent -- 44 percent since the first round on April 10, and analysts said that the debate was unlikely to change voting intentions in the favor of Le Pen.
Gerard Araud, a former French ambassador, said on Twitter that Emmanuel Macron won but his adversary has avoided a repeat of last time's disaster. This debate doesn't disqualify her like the one in 2017 but it doesn't help her close the gap. Macron's line of attack was on the offensive for most of the debate, with a loan to Le Pen's party for her 2017 campaign contracted through a Russian bank.
Macron appeared to put the blame on the cost of living, rated the most important issue for the French in this election, and asked her why she had voted against his plans to cap electricity prices if she wanted to help hard-up workers.
During the debates, Macron did not dispel an image of haughtiness that had taken root during his presidency. He interrupted his rival repeatedly with lines like Mrs Le Pen is much more disciplined than five years ago, and Stop mixing everything up with Mr Macron, stop lecturing me, and Le Pen retorted. She adopted a more courteous and softer tone than in 2017 and applauded Macron's diplomatic efforts to prevent war in Ukraine.
The Elabe snap opinion poll on each candidate's personal characteristics showed that 50 percent of the French thought Macron had come across as arrogant during the debate, while only 16 percent thought Le Pen had.
Le Pen appeared to be marginally more in tune with regular citizens, with 37 percent of viewers saying she sounded closer to people's concerns, while only 34 percent thought Macron did.
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She delivered a memorable punchline, which may resonate with leftist and younger voters who think Macron has not done enough to combat climate change, despite his early-mandate slogan "Make our planet great again, but you are a bit of a climate hypocrite," Le Pen said.
Macron's mastery of policy details made him look more presidential the same Elabe poll, while she failed to convince a majority of viewers that she was fit to govern.
Bernard Sananes, pollster Elabe said that each of them has a huge weakness. Emmanuel Macron is considered arrogant by more than one in two viewers.