PARIS (AP) — Far-right presidential contender Marine Le Pen said Tuesday that people are revolting against the elite and predicted that could translate into a “very big surprise” when ballots are cast May 7 in France’s final round to choose a new leader — and it will be her.
Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, the independent centrist candidate who is her rival in the upcoming vote, sparred in successive television appearances, tossing insults as each launched a political offensive to win new voters before the balloting in less than two weeks.
Macron placed first in the first-round of the election, followed by Le Pen, and he is viewed as the favorite. Nine other candidates were eliminated.
“There is a revolt of the people against the elite” seen in Britain’s Brexit vote and “probably” in the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, Le Pen said in a TF-1 television show.
“The people will probably reserve a very big surprise for the oligarchy,” the anti-establishment candidate said, referring to elite decision-makers, including Macron, who is a former economy minister and investment banker.
For Macron, Le Pen’s anti-European Union, anti-immigration platform is based on “hatred for others” and contrasts with his desire to “calm” the country.
The pro-business candidate said he belongs to the “progressive camp” with a project “to make France succeed … in a stronger Europe” that his rival wants to leave.
Those are “two clear offers that come face to face,” Macron said on French public television.
Le Pen holds out a still starker comparison, saying French voters will be making a choice between “uncontrolled globalization and the nation.”
She contended Macron’s plan for France amounts to “fratricide,” saying it would pit people and companies against each other, with the strongest winning in a land where “the markets are the boss, money the king.”
Le Pen started her day at the Rungis wholesale market outside Paris, calling for more food to be produced and consumed in this country known as the gastronomic center of the Western world.
She said the French government must promote meat from France.
“Let’s promote the ‘eating French’ especially in (school) canteens where our children must take advantage of healthy, quality products,” she said.
Le Pen was booed by some workers in the fruits and vegetables section.
Criticism came from all quarters Tuesday, including from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the long-time nationalist leader who questioned her campaign.
He told France Inter radio that he thinks his daughter has produced a “too laid-back” campaign. He said that in her position, he would have done a “Trump-style” campaign that would have been “very aggressive against those who are responsible for the country’s decadency.”
He still supports her candidacy in the presidential runoff.
Jean-Marie Le Pen, who repeatedly has been convicted of crimes based on anti-Semitism and racism, founded the National Front party that his daughter took over, but a feud has divided the two.
In 2015, Marine Le Pen pushed him out of the party because he refused to desist from anti-Semitic provocations that were undermining both her bid to become French president and her bid to make the National Front an acceptable political alternative.
Le Pen announced Monday she was stepping down from the party leadership while running her campaign.
Associated Press writer Philippe Sotto contributed to this report.
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