Embattled French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen yesterday vowed to spare France five more years of “arrogance without limit” at the hands of Emmanuel Macron as she insisted she could clinch a major upset on Sunday.
The National Rally candidate and her supporters dismissed snap polls that pronounced Mr Macron the clear winner of a crunch three-hour TV debate on Wednesday – 59pc saw him as the victor, one found.
“Like a boa constrictor, Macron seemed to gradually tighten his grip around his opponent until she suffocated,” concluded Le Monde.
Ms Le Pen was viewed as closer to the people, while Mr Macron came across as more competent and presidential but arrogant.
Speaking in Arras, in her northern electoral heartland, Ms Le Pen told a fervent crowd of thousands the debate had “confirmed what the French people sensed was his true nature”.
Aping the way the incumbent mansplained in his chair while rolling his eyes during her responses, she said: “We saw an Emmanuel Macron who was nonchalant, condescending and with an arrogance without limit. A president shouldn’t behave like that.
“Are we really surprised? No. His attitude last night, his disdain, is the same way he treated the French for the past five years. All that is unworthy of our democracy. Everyone last night understood that Emmanuel Macron doesn’t like the French.
“Do you really want five more years of a president who shrugs his shoulders when people talk of massive and anarchic immigration?”
Her programme, by comparison, was “an ode to France” and “an act of love and respect”. Sunday, she said, was a referendum on a “simple question: Macron or France?”
The fierce final attack came after polls suggested the debate had not helped her cause, and that the centrist incumbent had extended his lead.
In a sign of growing confidence, Mr Macron let it be known he has booked out the Champs de Mars area in front of the Eiffel Tower for a potential acceptance speech.
On a tour of poor, immigrant suburbs on the northern outskirts of Paris, the 44-year-old denied he had browbeaten his rival.
On the hunt for votes in Saint-Denis, a stronghold of leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon, who came third nationwide in round one, Mr Macron donned boxing gloves to spar with a coach.
“Hit him between the eyes,” egged on one bystander.
However, in a move with unfortunate symbolism, he missed his target completely and struck below the belt.
In Arras, Ms Le Pen urged voters not to heed the “fear merchants” of a “system” desperate to “save Private Macron”. To chants of “we will win”, she said the “silent majority” can swing the result.
“There is no fatalism or foregone conclusion. If you go and vote, we will be in power. So, people of France, the time has come to rise up,” she said.
Many of her supporters remain convinced she could still pull it off. Frederic Sulpizi (60), a tramway technician, said: “What I hear on the ground is very different to what we see in the polls. Many really believe she can do it.”
Much hangs on whether disappointed left-wing voters decide to cast a blank ballot or vote for Mr Macron in the final hour. Some 40pc say they will either stay at home or cast a blank vote. (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2022)
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