Macron blasts Le Pen as ‘far-right’ and accuses her of faking moderation

Macron ally warns of 'hidden Frexit' in Le Pen's agenda

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French voters will take to the polls in less than a week as Mr Macron attempts to hold onto power. The election is by all accounts closer than when the pair last battled for the presidency in 2017 and final efforts are being employed to persuade the public not to vote for either opponent.

Asked on France Channel 5 about Ms Le Pen’s political leanings, Mr Macron responded he was in “no doubt” she was “far right”.

He said: “I see the people who support her and the ideas she defends and they are not centre-right or republican right ideas.

“The Le Pen family has defended the same ideas in eight presidential elections.

“They have changed the surface a bit to get more support, but they are the same ideas.”

The National Rally leader has made attempts in recent years to change the image of her party, including by changing its name from the National Front which brought to mind the politics of her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, whose politics are often described as “far right”.

Her public approach to Europe has also become softer in what has been branded a bid to win over more voters.

Mr Macron described this as a front, insisting Ms Le Pen has actually become “maybe even more radical on some subjects, such as identity, asylum, Europe”.

He stressed, for example: “What she is proposing now is leaving the euro but without saying so.”

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Others close to the President have used the Russia-Ukraine war to discredit Ms Le Pen.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Europe 1 the presidential hopeful would, if elected, “hand France’s sovereignty to Vladimir Putin and to Russia”.

In what could be perceived as an attempt to play down accusations of “far-right” beliefs, Ms Le Pen has signalled she would be happy to appoint left-wing politicians to her government if voters back her to take power.

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She earlier this month told RTL radio she would be happy to work with figures from “a sovereigns left, a left which supports re-industrialisation, the defence of our great industries”.

It is expected one significant moment of the campaign will take place tomorrow, on April 20, when Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen face each other in a televised debate.

At the time of the last presidential debate ahead of the 2017 vote, pundits largely agreed Mr Macron carried out the best performance.

With polling closer than it was the last time round, a strong performance by Ms Le Pen tomorrow could put her in even better stead for Sunday’s vote.

Even allies of Mr Macron have warned the result of the election is not yet certain, including French Prime Minister Jean Castex who said today, on April 19, “the game is not done and dusted”.

This echoed the sentiment of French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, who last month warned Mr Macron: “[Ms Le Pen] is dangerous for the President and she can win this election.”

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

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