French Presidential Election: Macron and Le Pen Prepare for Grudge Match Debate as Polling Remains Tight

French citizens residing in Lebanon walk past election posters of independent centrist French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron (L) and far-right Front National (FN - National Front) candidate Marine Le Pen, as they arrive to cast their votes at the French embassy in Beirut on May 7, 2017 during the second …
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Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron will face each other in a grudge match debate on Wednesday evening as polling between the two suggest the election for the French Presidency is not yet decided.

France is bracing itself for a political grudge match of biblical proportions, with Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron set to face each other in a Wednesday night debate that may end up deciding the political future of France.

After months of campaigning, opinion polling suggests that the race remains too close to call definitively, with issues of economics, far-right politics, and President Macron’s poor track record in office seen as likely to arise during the fray.

According to a report by Politico, both candidates appear to be coming into the debate with a certain degree of trepidation, with the confrontation having the ability to make or break their respective campaigns. Macron has even skipped previous debates.

Both will know a mistake know could cost them everything. Marine Le Pen, the populist candidate all but derailed her 2017 presidential campaign with a poor showing during the same debate last election cycle.

In fact, the debate was apparently so bad that even five years later, she has still seemingly refused to watch a recording of it, describing the event as a serious “disappointment”.

The Rassemblement National candidate however has since trimmed the fat from her political platform, and now seems to be returning to face President Macron from a far stronger position.

“Life is full of tests, there are some things you succeed at, some things that you fail,” Le Pen is reported as saying during an interview ahead of this campaign’s debate. “[The 2017 debate was a] test of character, I got up again, and I changed a lot of things in my party… and I found the energy to relaunch myself in politics.”

Meanwhile, those in the camp of incumbent French President Emmanuel Macron appear to have significant concerns regarding the outcome of Wednesday night’s war of words, fearing that the Europhile head of state could be in serious danger should he lose his cool.

“We need to turn it into a non-event,” Politico reports a Macron camp insider as saying. “[Macron] has to continue acting as president, as a candidate … He mustn’t show that he is afraid of her.”

“She’ll [play] the ‘little mother of the people’ card, and he’ll look like the arrogant leader against the people,” the insider also said, seemingly fearing that Macron’s reputation for being egotistical could result in a disaster.

While the two most successful presidential candidates ready themselves for political combat, the progressive left’s most successful champion, Jean-Luc Mélenchon has moved his attention to France’s Prime Minister position.

The Leftist politician has largely been left licking his wounds after failing to reach the two-candidate runoff, with the progressive left as a whole performing rather dismally in an election cycle dominated by the centre and the hard right.

Seemingly as a result of the poor performance however, Mélenchon now appears to want to hit the reset switch, calling on progressives across France to make him the country’s next Prime Minister during the upcoming general election.

“I ask the French people to elect me prime minister,” Le Monde reports the former socialist presidential candidate as saying, arguing that he needed the population to vote in a “majority of ‘rebellious’ [deputies].”

“I will be the Prime Minister, not by the favour of Mr. Macron or Mrs. Le Pen, but by the French who elected me,” he also declared, despite the fact his relatively poor previous polling.

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