Watch live as French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen holds rally in Arras
Emmanuel Macron maintains a 12 point poll lead over Marine Le Pen, the far-right challenger in the French presidential election, after a heated television debate on Wednesday night.
As the election campaign entered its final days both candidates returned to the campaign trail to drum up what support they could before the vote on Sunday.
Mr Macron, the centrist president hoping for re-election, visited the Saint-Denis suburb of Paris while Ms Le Pen, who positions herself as a voice of the neglected working class, was in the northern industrial region of Hauts-de-France.
In Saint-Denis, the president warned the crowd against his opponent, saying: “We must not get used to the rise of far-right ideas”.
Ms Le Pen, at a rally in the city of Arras, accused Mr Macron of “unlimited arrogance” in both Wednesday’s debate and the five years of his presidency. She said he was soft on immigration and called his economic record “catastrophic”.
Leaders of Germany, Spain and Portugal backed Mr Macron on Thursday.
Marine Le Pen pushing out messages on social media
Marine Le Pen’s Twitter account is being very active this morning, sharing clips from interviews and campaign pictures every 10 minutes or so:
Zoe Tidmann22 April 2022 09:41
Macron says EU cannot allow new iron curtain
Some more from Emmanuel Macron’s media interviews this morning.
The president said the EU nations must not allow a new iron curtain to fall across the continent – but it was also important to take account of differing views within the bloc towards Russia and the war in Ukraine.
Zoe Tidmann22 April 2022 08:58
Marine Le Pen says she has ‘spent eight months trying to drag French away from abstention’
Both candidates are doing half rounds as the election approaches.
“I’ve spent eight months in this presidential campaign trying to drag French out of abstention,” Marine Le Pen said this morning.
The far-right leader said she believed the split between the French people and their representatives can be closed with “democratic utensils” including proportional representation and referendums triggered by the population itselfs.
Zoe Tidmann22 April 2022 08:49
Le Pen drawing on anger I haven’t quelled, Macron says
Emmanuel Macron has said he had not managed to quell some of the anger felt in the country and that his far-right rival Marine Le Pen was using some of that in her campaign.
“And there we have it. She has made some progress, she has covered herself up by turning this into our problem, and she has managed to draw on this,” the president – hoping to be re-elected at the weekend – told France Inter radio.
Zoe Tidmann22 April 2022 08:05
Tory and Brexit supporters back far-right Marine Le Pen, poll suggests
Conservative and Brexit supporters want far-right candidate Marine Le Pen to become president of France, a poll by YouGov has suggested.
At least 37 per cent of Tory voters backed the right-wing leader, while just 24 per cent supported the centrist Emmanuel Macron.
The two will go head-to-head in a critical run-off on Sunday, with polls putting Mr Macron as little as six points ahead of his rival.
The margin is even greater among Leave voters at the 2016 Brexit referendum, who prefer Ms Le Pen over the current president by 35 per cent to 19 per cent.
Alisha Rahaman Sarkar22 April 2022 07:30
Le Pen calls on voters to choose ‘between Macron and France’
At her final campaign rally in Arras, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen urged voters to choose between “Macron and France”.
“To block [Macron]you cannot abstain, you must vote,” she told her supporters, according to France24.
She added: “You must vote for the only front that is truly republican, the anti-Macron front.”
Slamming her opponent’s “unbounded arrogance”, Ms Le Pen projected herself as a nationalist “president who will respect the French” compared to Mr Macron “who does not like them”.
Alisha Rahaman Sarkar22 April 2022 07:00
Macron and Le Pen make last effort to win presidential race
Incumbent French president Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen made a last-ditch effort on Thursday to woo voters ahead of Sunday’s presidential election.
While Ms Le Pen headed to her stronghold in Arras, Mr Macron visited the multicultural Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, where the far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon made massive inroads during the first-round vote.
According to French election rules, all campaigning must end by Friday midnight.
Following Wednesday’s fiery marathon debate, Mr Macron has a six to 13 point lead over Ms Le Pen, according to the latest opinion polls.
Alisha Rahaman Sarkar22 April 2022 06:28
Macron warns Muslim voters against consequences of electing Le Pen
Incumbent French president Emmanuel Macron in the last leg of the campaign tried to woo disaffected left-wing voters and warned them against the consequences on the Muslim community if his far-right rival Marine Le Pen is voted to power.
While visiting the multicultural Paris commune of Saint-Denis, Mr Macron accused his rival of trying to exclude foreign citizens from social housing, Politico reported.
As an example, he said, “a young Moroccan lady who has two children, who work at the hospital, who was applauded every evening during the pandemic … with Madame Le Pen’s program, we will take away her social housing and her family benefits” .
“It’s a program of discord,” Mr Macron added while slamming Ms Le Pen for “mixing up terrorism, insecurity, immigration, Islam and Islamism all the time”.
Alisha Rahaman Sarkar22 April 2022 05:19
When will the French election results be announced?
France’s electorate goes to the polls on Sunday 24 April to decide who will be the next president (Joe Somerland writes).
An exit poll is expected to be published at 7pm GMT on Sunday with the official final results announced the following day.
Mr Macron secured 27.8 per cent of the vote 11 days ago to Ms Le Pen’s 23.1 per cent and is currently leading in opinion polls by as much as 56 per cent to 44 per cent, although Sunday’s ballot is expected to provide a close contest nonetheless.
Liam James22 April 2022 03:00
Macron wins TV debate but sounded arrogant, say French voters
French voters believe President Emmanuel Macron was the big winner of the televised political debate with far-right challenger Marine Le Pen, but they also believe he came across as arrogant, according to a poll (Borzhou Daragahi writes).
The survey, conducted by the firm Elabe for France’s BFM television channel and L’Express magazine, indicated that 59 per cent of watchers viewed Mr Macron as the winner of the fiery confrontation with Ms Le Pen, who was seen as the winner by just 39 per cent.
The French leader, according to numerous polls, is expected to win Sunday’s vote with between 52 and 56 per cent of the vote. But Ms Le Pen, who won only a third of votes in a 2017 election match-up against Mr Macron, remains within striking distance, and a surprise victory for the challenger cannot be ruled out.
Among supporters of leftwing first-round presidential contender Jean-Luc Melenchon, 61 per cent saw Mr Macron as the winner of the debate as opposed to 36 per cent who regarded Ms Le Pen as the winner.
Liam James22 April 2022 02:00