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Macron spars with Le Pen in fiery TV debate

The centrist incumbent beat a familiar tune of heavy investment in French industry and an uncompromising commitment to the European Union. Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Rally party, cast herself as the voice of a public struggling with a cost-of-living crisis.

Le Pen, who lost to Macron in the 2017 runoff, said she was “obliged to be the spokesperson of the people” and promised to be “the president of sovereignty.”

“My absolute priority of the next five years is to give French people back their money,” she said, repeating her campaign pledge to lower the VAT (value-added tax) on energy and fuel.

The candidates’ relations with Russia sparked a fiery exchange during the almost three-hour debate broadcast on TF1 and France 2, with Macron highlighting a loan to a Russian bank that Le Pen’s party is still repaying.
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