A woman walks past official posters of Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron in Bethune, France. Picture: REUTERS/PASCAL ROSSIGNOL
A woman walks past official posters of Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron in Bethune, France. Picture: REUTERS/PASCAL ROSSIGNOL

Paris — The far-right National Front attacked presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron as a "candidate of oligarchs" who parties with celebrities as it sought to portray Marine Le Pen as more in touch with the French people.

The morning after the election-night parties, the National Front was eager to underscore the differences between long-time opposition politician Le Pen and political newcomer Macron, a former investment banker and economy minister.

Macron had 23.8% in the first round and Le Pen had 21.5%, according to results from the Interior Ministry, with 97.4% of votes counted.

"We are in almost perfect opposition on all points," Florian Philippot, the National Front’s vice-president, told France 2 television on Monday.

With both establishment parties knocked out of the race after Sunday’s first round, anti-euro Le Pen and independent Macron have two weeks to secure a majority in the May 7 runoff.

The next round will present their starkly different visions, with Macron representing a France that has thrived on its openness to the world and Le Pen speaking for those who have been hurt by it.

"Macron’s biggest weaknesses are his lack of experience and that for many voters, he is the candidate of the France which succeeds, for whom globalisation has worked," said Elabe pollster Yves-Marie Cann.

A daily rolling poll released by OpinionWay on Monday said the candidate of the newly created On the Move party would defeat Le Pen by 61% to 39%.

Showbiz Friends

Philippot compared a dinner Macron had at La Rotonde restaurant, in the former bohemian district of Montparnasse, on Sunday with the election-night party ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy held at a chic venue on the Champs-Elysees in 2007, which earned him a "bling-bling president" label.

"Macron was there with all his showbiz friends," Philippot said. "He is way too arrogant and sure of himself."

The independent candidate’s speech on Sunday was "as if his media and banking lobbies have already decided the election", the National Front official said in an interview on RMC radio.

Even before Philippot’s criticism, Macron had dismissed any comparison with Sarkozy.

"If you haven’t understood that I had the pleasure this evening of inviting my secretaries, my security officers, the politicians, the writers, the women and men who have accompanied me since the first day of this campaign, then you haven’t understood anything about life," he told reporters as he emerged from the restaurant.

Meanwhile, Philippot has urged supporters of Communist-backed Jean-Luc Melenchon, who ranked fourth, to rally behind Le Pen: "Do you think they want a total deregulation of the economy? Do you think they want to go any further in this banking and financial EU?"

Bloomberg

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