Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

European leaders back Macron as French election campaign nears end

Emmanuel Macron (Francois Mori/AP)
Emmanuel Macron (Francois Mori/AP)

Just days before France’s crucial presidential run-off vote, the centre-left leaders of Germany, Spain and Portugal have urged French voters to choose centrist President Emmanuel Macron over far-right nationalist rival Marine Le Pen.

And in another sign of the wide international influence the result of Sunday’s French presidential vote will have, imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny also spoke up a day earlier, urging French voters to back Mr Macron and alleging that Ms Le Pen is too closely linked to Russian authorities.

Ms Le Pen has faced scrutiny before over a nine million euro (£7.5 million) loan that her party received in 2014 from the First Czech-Russian Bank and her 2017 visit to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin before the French presidential run-off that year.

In a column published on Thursday in several European newspapers, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa wrote that Sunday’s vote is “critical for France and all and every one of us in Europe”.

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen before a televised debate in La Plaine-Saint-Denis, outside Paris, on Wednesday
Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen before a televised debate in La Plaine-Saint-Denis, outside Paris, on Wednesday (Ludovic Marin, Pool via AP)

“It’s the election between a democratic candidate who believes that France’s strength broadens in a powerful and autonomous European Union and an extreme-right candidate who openly sides with those who attack our freedom and democracy, values based on the French ideas of Enlightenment,” the joint comment said without mentioning Mr Macron or Ms Le Pen by name.

Social Democrat Mr Scholz and Socialists Mr Sanchez and Mr Costa wrote that Europe “is facing a change of era” due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and that “populists and the extreme right” are viewing Mr Putin “as an ideological and political model, replicating his chauvinist ideas”.

“They have echoed his attacks on minorities and diversity and his goal of nationalist uniformity,” they said, according to the article in Spain’s leading newspaper El Pais.

“We must not forget that, no matter how much those politicians are now trying to distance themselves from the Russian aggressor.”

The column ended by appealing to unity to “maintain prosperity and well-being” in Europe.

“That’s why we need France to be on our side,” the leaders wrote.

Mr Macron is not taking any chances by being complacent, even with polling data for his camp in recent days that show a stabilised lead against his rival.

On Thursday, he was visiting voters in the multicultural suburb of Paris of Saint Denis.

French far-right leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen campaigns in Saint-Pierre-en-Auge, Normandy
Marine Le Pen campaigning in Saint-Pierre-en-Auge, Normandy (Jeremias Gonzalez/AP)

Ms Le Pen is speaking with voters in Arras ahead of her final rally there.

The two rivals clashed bitterly in Wednesday’s televised debate.

Mr Macron argued that the loan Ms Le Pen’s party received in 2014 from a Czech-Russian bank made her unsuitable to deal with Moscow amid its invasion of Ukraine.

He also said her plans to ban Muslim women in France from wearing headscarves in public would trigger “civil war” in the country that has the largest Muslim population in western Europe.

Ms Le Pen, in turn, sought to appeal to voters struggling with surging prices amid the fallout of Russia’s war in Ukraine, which she criticised.

She said bringing down the cost of living would be her priority if elected as France’s first woman president.

Already a subscriber? Sign in