Le Pen, Macron spar as French presidential race narrows slightly

BATTLE INTENSIFIED: Macron has the largest predicted winning margin over Le Pen

PARIS: Far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen took a fishing-boat ride on Thursday as two polls suggested she had made a more impressive start to the last lap of campaigning than the favourite, centrist Emmanuel Macron.
Since last Sunday’s opening ballot sent them into a two-way runoff on May 7, the battle has intensified, notably on the public relations front, between two candidates who both say their adversary will ruin the country.
A daily Opinionway poll showed Macron still clear favourite, but his predicted score, which has almost always been 60 per cent or higher over the past few months, dipped to 59 per cent for the first time since mid-March.
A separate Elabe poll also signalled a potential danger for the favourite: it said one out of two people surveyed considered Le Pen’s last-leg campaign had begun well, while for Macron that positive view of latest developments was a slimmer 43 per cent.
The progression of Macron and Le Pen to the second round on April 23 sent the euro sharply higher and lifted French stocks.
Investors fear Le Pen’s anti-EU policies could lead to a break-up of the bloc and its single currency, but they are following polls which have shown that of all her main opponents, Macron has the largest predicted winning margin over her.
Macron, a centrist ex-banker, took to Twitter to deride the National Front leader, whose fishing boat outing in jeans and a white jacket won her extensive TV coverage for a second straight day.
Flanked by fans and fishermen in the Port de Grau port west of Marseille, Le Pen told a horde of journalists on the quayside that she would defend all seafarers and all endangered sectors against invasive European Union regulations.
Hitting out at Macron, she said: “Let me warn you, that man will destroy our entire social and economic structure.”
The independent centrist, a 39-year-old who did a stint as a minister in the outgoing Socialist government before breaking away to launch a cross-partisan political movement, mocked his 48-year-old foe in turn on the Twitter social network.
“Madame Le Pen is gone fishing. Enjoy the outing. The exit from
Europe that she is proposing will
spell the end of French fisheries,” he said. — Reuters