Macron judged ‘most convincing’ in TV debate with Le Pen

The first viewer polls are in, and incumbent Emmanuel Macron was judged the most convincing candidate in Wednesday night's nearly three-hour TV debate.

Macron judged 'most convincing' in TV debate with Le Pen
Emmanuel Macron during the TV debate with Marine Le Pen. Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

The head-to-head debate between the two candidates in the second round of the French presidential debate was screened live to the nation and, as is tradition, most media organisations ran their own snap polls on who ‘won’.

An Elabe poll for TV station BFM and newspaper L’Express found that 59 percent of viewers said that Macron was more convincing during the debate.

Le Pen was judged most convincing by 39 percent of viewers, while two percent did not give an opinion.

Commentators posting on social media judged that Macron had the better grasp of detail and the technicalities of his policy, but at times appeared arrogant and patronising.

Le Pen made it a point to show empathy for the struggles of ordinary French people, but at times appeared muddled and confused and confused about her policies.

Going into the debate Macron was leading the polls with an average lead of 56 percent to 44 percent, with three days to go until the second round of voting on Sunday, April 24th.  

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France’s Le Pen ordered to stand trial in EU funding scandal

French prosecutors on Friday ordered far-right figurehead Marine Le Pen to stand trial over claims she used EU funds to finance party activities in France.

France's Le Pen ordered to stand trial in EU funding scandal

The former presidential candidate will in March be joined by 26 other members of the Rassemblement National (RN) party in the dock, all accused of setting up a system for embezzling EU money to hire staff in France.

The fake jobs inquiry began in 2015, with prosecutors alleging that starting in 2004, National Front (as the party was then called) MEPs including Le Pen took part in the fake jobs scheme.

The accused include Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the co-founder of what became France’s most successful far-right party.

The party itself, as a legal entity, is suspected of receiving illicit funds, and of complicity in fraud.

Marine Le Pen was runner-up to Emmanuel Macron in the 2017 and 2022 presidential elections and could have another go in 2027. She was president of her party until 2021, and now leads its parliamentary group.

The charges against her are embezzlement and collusion in fraud.

The decision to go to trial was taken by two investigating magistrates from France’s financial crimes prosecuting unit.

The group is accused of using EU parliamentary funds to pay for assistants who in fact worked for the Rassemblement National party.

Le Pen, who stepped down as an MEP in 2017 after her election to the French parliament, has denied the claims.

The charges carry sentences of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to double the alleged funds embezzled.

If convicted, the court could also declare Le Pen ineligible for office for up to 10 years – threatening her plan to make a fourth run for the French presidency.

The EU Parliament estimated in 2018 that €6.8 million had been embezzled from 2009 to 2017.