After receiving criticism from the entire political spectrum for only having invited the five frontrunners at the first presidential debate, the national French broadcasting channel France 2 widened its panel of candidates. For the second debate, the six other candidates (or “little” candidates) were invited to participate; according to France 24, it was historically the first debate in France to host all the candidates of a presidential race.
Although it gave an opportunity to the smaller candidates – François Asselineau, Nathalie Arthaud, Nicolas Dupont Aignan, Jacques Cheminade, Jean Lassalle, and Philippe Poutou – to voice their ideas, this wider panel seemed to have spread confusion on the discussions of issues and shadowed the frontrunners.
It quickly became a “three-hour marathon” of attacks:
Philippe Poutou, affiliated to the far-left, ridiculed Marine Le Pen’s main claim to being “anti-system” as he declared that she used her parliamentary immunity to protect herself from judicial prosecution in the affair of illegal payments to her staff.
Ms. Le Pen was relatively passive throughout the debate, although she threw a cutting remark at the centrist Emmanuel Macron (who currently leads the polls). Ms. Le Pen mocked Mr. Macron’s self-proclamation of “the candidate of a new hope,” advancing that his politics were new in form but not in content.
Nathalie Arthaud (Workers’ Struggle) and Philippe Poutou (New Anti-Capitalist Party), both sharing ideologies for the empowerment of the working class, heavily criticized most of the frontrunners for their lack of political ethic: François Fillon from the right party and Ms. Le Pen for the scandals and other corruption affairs they were involved in a few weeks ago.
Mr. Poutou said to Mr. Fillon: “François Fillon, the more we dig, the more we smell corruption, cheating; these are guys who tell us that we need rigor, austerity, when they steal from the coffers,” according to France 24.
Mr. Poutou, who refused to join the ten other candidates on the picture taken before the debate and wore a plain white shirt with blue jeans, also greatly accentuated how he is the only candidate, with Ms. Arthaud, who work a job. (Mr. Poutou is a Ford mechanic). He denounced the “corrupt politicians, disconnected from reality,” according to France 24.
Mainly, it seems like the debate was an excellent opportunity for “little” candidates to settle accounts with the big political figures and the fruitless political establishment they embody.
The third debate has been scheduled by France 2 for April, 20th; however, Mr. Mélenchon and Ms. Le Pen have refused to participate so far, considering it would take place three days before the first election round.
In any case, the race to presidency remains one of the most unpredictable in years, with scandals and surprises that undermined the big players and reinforced the smaller ones.
According to the latest polls published by L’Internaute on April, 15th, Emmanuel Macron (yellow line) remains winner of the election, closely followed by Marine Le Pen (black line). Jean-Luc Méchelon (red line) has gained 6% of voting intention since March 27th and is now on an equal footing with François Fillon (blue line). Conversely, Benoît Hamon has lost more than 5% of voting intention.
Article by Alice Ferré