Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen clash over EU
Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen have clashed over the far-right leader’s links with Russia in a live television debate ahead of the upcoming election.
The incumbent president said Ms Le Pen was “dependent on Putin” and called Russia her “banker” as he launched into fierce criticism over a loan taken from Russian bank in 2014.
The far-right candidate insisted on her independence was not compromised by this.
Bookmakers are predicting a win for Mr Macron, the centrist current president, in the election on Sunday, with his lead over his far-right challenger edging higher over the past few days.
More key quotes from debate
Climate and energy
“There is no way out of fossil fuels that relies solely on nuclear. Your strategy is not working.”
“Even though we have energy needs today, you are not telling me how we will cope with moving beyond fossil fuels, how we will reduce our dependence on Russian gas.”
“I am in no way a climate change denier. But you, your are something of a hypocritical climate.”
“Free trade kills the planet.”
“You have completely changed your tune on nuclear power… We have wasted 10 years destabilizing a nuclear industry that needed to be strengthened to make this carbon-free energy source once again the basis for our energy mix.”
Pension and retirement age
“I don’t want to increase our taxes, I don’t want to increase our debt, I even want to start paying it off over the next five years. So I want us to work more, a pillar of which would be to push back the legal retirement age by four months a year until we reach 65 in 2031.”
“All those who had their first proper job before the age of 20 will be able to retire at 60.”
Zoe Tidman20 April 2022 22:15
Clash over hydrogen
The two have clashed over hydrogen. Marine Le Pen says she wants to make “green hydrogen” from nuclear.
Emmanuel Macron says this is not what the country’s nuclear capacity is for. He also tells her hydrogen “is not an energy source” itself.
Some are mocking this idea from Ms Le Pen on social media:
“To be honest, she should have responded to ‘how do you produce hydrogen?’ with ‘soak it in oil, soak it in water’, she would have almost appeared more competent to me’
As well as the exchange between the two on hydrogen:
Zoe Tidman20 April 2022 21:51
Debate turns out to be more heated than expected
It had been suggested the debate could be relatively boring, with both candidates wanting to give a solid – rather than combative – performance.
But it has been pretty heated so far, with the candidates accusing the other of getting stuff wrong and interrupting each other.
”Are you joking or what?” Emmanuel Macron just said when Marine Le Pen was talking about energy.
Zoe Tidman20 April 2022 21:44
Emmanuel Macron says the only way to deal with the climate crisis is nuclear and renewable energy together.
“We shouldn’t make the errors of the past,” he says.
Marine Le Pen has vowed to push nuclear but scrap subsidies for solar and wind energy.
Zoe Tidman20 April 2022 21:39
Now we are onto the environment – and the two are exchanging blows.
Emmanuel Macron calls Marine Le Pen “climate-skeptic”. The far-right candidate calls the president a “climate-hypocrite”.
Zoe Tidman20 April 2022 21:32
Macron retirement plans ‘an injustice’ – Le Pen
The two candidates have also clashed over the retirement age, which has been a much-debated topic during the election.
Emmanuel Macron wants to increase it to 65, which Marine Le Pen called an “injustice”.
Zoe Tidman20 April 2022 21:26
What is the Russian loan the candidates clashed about?
Marine Le Pen obtained a loan from a Russian bank in 2014 ahead of her run for the presidency in 2017.
Earlier today, Russian opposition leader urged French voters to back Emmanuel Macron as he discussed the €9m from the First Czech Russian Bank, believed to have ties to the Kremlin.
Zoe Tidman20 April 2022 21:13
Key quotes so far
Here is a run-through of some of the key quotes so far:
Cost of living:
Le Pen: “I’ve seen the people suffer, I’ve seen them worry, worry about a downgrading in their quality of life, about a kind of precariousness that they feels is widespread.”
“I’ve studied your program. There isn’t even the word unemployment.”
Le Pen: “The only sanctions I disagree with is the blocking of Russian oil and gas imports. Why do I disagree? Because in reality it will do no harm to Russia and will do enormous harm to our people.”
Macron on Le Pen’s Russia ties: “You are dependent on power, you are dependent on Putin. You took a loan from a Russian bank.”
Macron: “Five years ago, your program was only applicable if France left the Euro. Today, you still want to get out of it but you don’t say so anymore.”
“I want the European Commission to respect sovereign nations, to respect the choice of the French people, including their choice of society.”
“I want to change this European organisation. But I don’t want to leave it.”
Zoe Tidman20 April 2022 20:59
Jobs for French
Marine Le Pen: “My obsession is for French to work in their own country.”
Emmanuel Macron says employers having a preference for nationality would be an end to how the European system works. How about when a French person wants to work elsewhere in Europe, he asks.
Zoe Tidman20 April 2022 20:54
On the EU
Marine Le Pen says she wants to stay in the European Union but to see big changes.
Emmanuel Macron questions whether one country can change a whole organisation.
Zoe Tidman20 April 2022 20:48