After tense debate, France finds Macron more convincing: poll

A poll taken after the presidential debate has suggested the ex-economy minister outperformed his far-right rival. More often than not, policy positions turned to personal insults during the tumultuous encounter.

An opinion poll of French broadcaster BFMTV shows that 63 percent of viewers found banker-turned-politician Emmanuel Macron more convincing in Wednesday's presidential debate.

Only 34 percent of those polled found far-right leader Marine Le Pen more convincing in the final presidential debate before Sunday's run-off vote.

Emmanuel Macron, head of the political movement En Marche ! (Onwards!) and candidate for the 2017 presidential election, attends a campaign rally in Paris, France, May 1, 2017 (Benoit Tessier / Reuters)

During the debate, the two rivals launched personal insults and attacked each other's manifestos as they faced off in the final TV debate.

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen hit out at her centrist opponent Macron's record as a former economy minister, accusing him of playing a key role in selling off several of France's state-led companies.

In response, Macron accused his rival of misleading voters about his record. Furthermore, he accused Le Pen of having no experience in economic issues and no workable ideas.

Eurozone: Leave or Remain?

Keeping to her campaign pledge to pull France out of the eurozone, Le Pen said that central banks and businesses could decide whether they wanted to continue to use the euro for payments, but French citizens would have the franc in their wallets.

She said it would resemble the system used before the introduction of euro banknotes. Macron hit back saying the euro was used as an accounting currency, but payments had been made in national currencies.

"A big company cannot pay in euros on one hand and pay its employees in francs on the other … this is the big nonsense of Marine Le Pen's program," Macron said.

Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader and candidate for French 2017 presidential election, attends a campaign rally in Paris, France, April 17, 2017 (Pascal Rossignol / Reuters).

He added that if France left the eurozone, French citizens would lose up to one-third of their savings since the franc would have to be devalued upon the re-introduction of France's former national currency. Macron added that it would in effect make France less competitive since countries such as Germany would still be using the euro.
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Leading Polls

Wednesday's debate was the two rivals' only face-to-face encounter before Sunday's divisive run-off vote. It effectively marks the candidate's final campaign push before Saturday's election silence in which all campaigning is banned.

Macron has maintained a 20-percentage-point lead over far-right candidate Le Pen, but some analysts believe he may not automatically receive votes from supporters of some of the losing candidates from the first-round election.

Since the first-round vote on April 23, Le Pen has attempted to soften her image to broaden her appeal to undecided voters. She also temporarily stepped down as leader of the National Front but is still backed by her former party.

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