French election: Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron trade insults in TV debate

Majority of French people polled feel that centrist candidate outperformed far right leader in ill-tempered clash

The independent centrist Emmanuel Macron and the the far-right Front National candidate Marine Le Pen traded venomous personal insults and clashed over how to fix the sluggish French economy and fight terrorism in a bruising live TV presidential debate days before the final vote this weekend.

In the prolonged two-and-a-half-hour slanging match that featured more invective than any other debate in French presidential history, Macron branded Le Pen an ill-informed, corrupt, dangerously nationalistic and “hate-filled” liar who “fed off France’s misery” and would bring “civil war” to France. She in turn called the former economy minister an arrogant, spoilt, cold-eyed, “smirking banker” who was colluding with Islamists, complacent on terrorism and intent on “butchering France” in favour of “big economic interests”.

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