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5/4/17

French pre-election TV showdown- Macron, Le Pen clash on euro, terrorism - by Michel Rose and Ingrid Melande

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen(supported by both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin) and centrist Emmanuel Macron clashed over their vision of France's future, the euro and ways of fighting terrorism in an ill-tempered televised debate on Wednesday before Sunday's run-off vote for the presidency.

The two went into the debate with opinion polls showing Macron, 39, with a strong lead of 20 percentage points over the National Front's Le Pen, 48, in what is widely seen as France's most important election in decades.

For Le Pen, the two-and-a-half hour debate, watched by millions, was a last major chance to persuade voters of the merits of her program which includes cracking down on illegal immigration, ditching the euro single currency and holding a referendum on EU membership.

However, 63 percent of viewers found Macron more convincing than Le Pen in the debate, according to a snap opinion poll by Elabe for BFMTV, reinforcing his status as favorite to win the Elysee on Sunday.

In angry exchanges, Le Pen played up Macron's background as a former investment banker and economy minister, painting him as heir to the outgoing unpopular Socialist government and as the "candidate of globalisation gone wild."

He savaged her flagship policy of abandoning the euro, calling it a fatal plan that would unleash a currency war, and he accused her of failing to offer solutions to France's economic problems such as chronic unemployment.

Read more: Macron, Le Pen clash on euro, terrorism, in French pre-election TV showdown | Reuters

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