French far-right candidate Marine Le Pen gatecrashed Emmanuel Macron’s election campaign by showing up in his hometown.
Macron was meeting with labour representatives near a Whirpool tumble-dryer factory in Amiens on Tuesday when Le Pen turned up at the plant, Le Monde reports.
She met with workers who were protesting the closure of the factory, which Whirlpool plans to move to Poland, and took selfies with them.
“Emmanuel Macron is with the oligarchs, with the Medef, I am with the French workers,” Le Pen said, also accusing Macron of showing contempt for the workers by not showing up. She pledged to keep the factory open, even if that involves state intervention.
Macron arrived at the factory later in the day, where he was met with hecklers, although Reuters also reports there were some Front National activists in the crowd.
He stood his ground and talked to the workers for more than an hour, explaining that the redundancy plan would not be accepted if it wasn’t good enough and that Le Pen was lying to them when she promised them she could keep the factory open.
“Mrs Le Pen came to take selfies for 15 minutes and then she was gone,” Macron later said. “She decided to stage a PR coup with the social situation that we know. She came to take advantage of poverty.”
“Madame Le Pen is using the situation for political ends, stirring up crowds on a parking lot. If she’s elected, this company will close. Madame Le Pen does not understand how this country works.”
Macron has been accused by of complacency since winning the first round of the presidential election last Sunday, and of acting as if he has already won the race, but Le Pen’s stunt seemed to spur him into action.
Although the En Marche! candidate is forecast to beat Le Pen in the second round of the election, the race has started to narrow very slightly. A daily Opinionway poll showed Macron, whose score has almost always been 60% or higher over the past few months, dipped to 59 per cent for the first time since mid-March, Reuters reports.
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