Marine Le Pen blames Macron for dependency on Russian oil
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President Macron, who emphatically defeated Ms Le Pen in the second round of the 2017 contest, took aim at his closest rival ahead of the first hurdle in his re-election bid. French voters will flock to polling stations on Sunday to whittle down the 12 candidates to just two.
Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen are expected to emerge victorious in the first round, with a majority of opinion polls conducted over the campaign period suggesting the pair will top the vote.
Speaking about Le Pen, Macron said: “The fundamentals of the far right are always the same: attacks on and rejection of the Republic, a base of antisemitism — if not overt, at least cultivated — very clear xenophobia and an ultraconservative drive.”
According to the Times, the Twitter account for the President’s campaign even posted photos of Ms Le Pen superimposed alongside Vladimir Putin under the title “Marine Putin”.
Ms Le Pen has been forced to row back from previous comments of admiration for the Russian President.
Le Pen even met with Putin in Moscow ahead of the 2017 French Presidential Election.
However, the Kremlin question remains a difficult one for Le Pen after she refused to accept Russian troops were responsible for atrocities in Ukraine.
Mr Macron has also faced criticism for his response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
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Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said: “President Macron, how many times have you negotiated with Putin? What have you achieved?
“We don’t discuss, we don’t negotiate with criminals. All we should do is to fight them.
“Nobody negotiated with Hitler. Would you really negotiate with Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot?”
Comparing Mr Macron’s response to Boris Johnson’s earlier in the crisis, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said: “Yes. To be honest, Johnson is a leader who is helping more.
“The leaders of countries react according to how their constituents act.
“In this case, Johnson is an example.”
Despite consistently outpolling the National Rally leader, Mr Macron has seen his double-digit over Le Pen lead narrow in recent weeks to just three percent.
Second round opinion polls have also shown a shift.
Macron had opened up a lead similar to his 66 percent to 34 percent victory in 2017 in some surveys conducted in March.
However, more recent polls put his lead into single-digits.
A poll conducted by AtlasIntel even suggested Le Pen could win the second round vote by just one percent of the vote.
The comments come just days after he compared the Le Pen campaign to Brexit.
He previously said: “Look at Brexit and so many elections, what appeared impossible and that happened… Nothing is impossible but I don’t want arrogance or defeatism. I want general mobilisation.”
Despite taking aim at his nearest rival, the Times has reported Mr Macron told his Cabinet to avoid demonising Le Pen.
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He said: “We shouldn’t be in the moral register saying we’re heading for chaos if she’s elected.
“That’s not enough. We have to give priority to facts.”
A Minister said: “We have to show up the monstrous proposals of Marine Le Pen on the national debt and alliance with Russia.”
Ms Le Pen has pushed a low tax message, particularly on VAT, to address the cost of living crisis.
The Pas-de-Calais MP even said tax cuts could save up to £2,000 a year for every French household.
She also called to limit access for immigrants to benefits, jobs, housing and medical care.
Speaking about her plan to ban the Muslim headscarf in all public places, she said: “People will be given a fine in the same way that it is illegal to not wear your seatbelt.”
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