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French election: Macron seen as arrogant but he wins TV debate in poll

Viewers found him to be more presidential, dynamic and sincere. However, Le Pen is thought to be closer to the concerns of the public 

A viewers’ poll shows that the majority of people thought Emmanuel Macron won the TV debate with his presidential rival Marine Le Pen Pic: Tero Vesalainen, Alexandros Michailidis, Frederic Legrand - COMEO / Shutterstock

Emmanuel Macron has been deemed the winner of last night’s televised presidential election debate with rival Marine Le Pen, according to a poll commissioned by BFMTV.

Mr Macron was said to have come out as victor with 59% of viewers polled backing him, compared to 39% for Ms Le Pen. 

The debate, aired last night (April 20), attracted around 15.6 million viewers, around one million less than in 2017.

The debate had the lowest audience ever recorded (data has been collected since 1974). The previous record was held in 2017 with 16.5 million viewers.

In comparison, in 1988, the presidential debate between François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac was viewed by over 30 million people.

Read more: Macron vs Le Pen: six key points from the TV French election debate

The French public will vote for either one of these candidates in the election run-off on Sunday (April 24) in a repeat of the 2017 presidential election. 

On the day, the supporters of left-wing Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who finished third in the first-round of voting, are expected to prove crucial.

The poll showed that of the Mélenchon supporters polled, 61% found Mr Macron to be more convincing than his rival, compared to 36% for Ms Le Pen. 

Read more: French election: The chase is on for Mélenchon’s 7.7 million voters

Of the Macron supporters polled, 97% said their candidate won the debate. Meanwhile, just 85% of Ms Le Pen’s backers said that she came out as the winner. 

Other interesting figures show that around 53% of those polled said that Mr Macron came across as having qualities necessary to be president, compared to 29% for Ms Le Pen. The rest, just shy of 19%, did not give an opinion on this. 

The survey also showed that 36% of viewers found Mr Macron the most capable of bringing people in France together, compared to 31% for Ms Le Pen, while 33% did not give an opinion. 

Mr Macron was judged to be the “most dynamic” candidate by 49% of viewers polled, compared to 31% for Ms Le Pen. He was also found to be the most sincere by 36% of those surveyed (34% for Ms Le Pen), the candidate with the best project by 44% (31% for Ms Le Pen) and also the most arrogant by 50% of respondents (16% for Ms Le Pen). 

The survey found that 50% of respondents found Ms Le Pen to be “the most worrying” candidate, compared to 25% for Mr Macron. 

However, more people also found her to be the closest to the concerns of the public, with 37% backing her on this, compared to 34% for Mr Macron. 

Finally, 51% of respondents said she came across as the candidate who could change the most things, compared to 29% for Mr Macron. 

The Elabe survey was carried out just after the televised debate and involved a sample of 650 viewers over the age of 18. 

Related articles

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Will today’s ‘high-stake’ TV debate really influence French election?

EU, health: How have Macron and Le Pen’s policies changed since 2017?

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