Voters must choose 'for or against' France: Le Pen
Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has delivered a ferocious attack on her globalist rival Emmanuel Macron, saying voters faced a choice "for or against France".
The candidates' starkly differing visions on France's future are at the heart of the May 7 election run-off -- with Macron, a 39-year-old former banker embracing free trade and the EU, while Le Pen wants to seal France's borders and quit the euro. "The country Mr Macron wants is no longer France, it's a space, a wasteland, a trading room where there are only consumers and producers," Le Pen yesterday told a cheering crowd of some 4,000 supporters in the Riviera city of Nice, a rightwing stronghold.
"It's no longer a nation but a splintered multicultural society... where the only law is the survival of the fittest," said Le Pen, who got fresh bad news yesterday in the "fake jobs" scandal afflicting her National Front (FN) party.
"This election is a referendum for or against France...I'm asking you to choose France," she said. But Le Pen, who the latest polls suggest is some 20 points behind her rival, also sought to cast a reassuring image aimed at broadening voter support for her anti- immigrant, anti-EU camp.
"I pay no attention to your origins, your religion, your sexual orientation, the colour of your skin," she told the flag-waving crowd. "That doesn't interest me, what interests me is you." She has campaigned fiercely since she and Macron qualified Sunday for the runoff, while Macron was accused of a laggardly start to his second-round efforts but has stepped up the pace over the past 24 hours. The former economy minister, speaking at nearly the same time as Le Pen on French television, said he aimed to heal the divide in France over its relationship with the EU.
"I will defend (the EU) by reforming it," he said. "Our challenge is to reconcile our citizens with the EU... which we need to provide more protection to our citizens amid globalisation." Macron was booed and heckled on Wednesday when he visited a Whirlpool factory in the northern city of Amiens, his hometown, where the US appliances giant is threatening to partially outsource production to Poland.
The besuited candidate had been meeting with union representatives kilometres away from the plant, but he was upstaged when Le Pen showed up.
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