France’s Macron under pressure to step up game against Le Pen

Paris (AFP) – French presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday rejected accusations he was resting on his laurels after winning the first round of the election, insisting “nothing’s won yet” in the race against the far right’s Marine Le Pen.

The 39-year-old centrist said his victory in Sunday’s first round of voting was proof that pollsters — who had long placed him second to Le Pen in the opening round — “get it wrong”.

“Nothing’s won yet,” Macron said during a visit to a hospital near Paris.

“I will continue to fight for two weeks… I will defend the progressive camp to the end,” the ex-banker bidding to become France’s youngest-ever president said.

Earlier, President Francois Hollande appeared to admonish his former economy minister for not taking the fight to Le Pen over the past two days.

Le Pen, 48, was first out of the blocks after the first round, visiting Paris’ main wholesale food market and giving a TV interview in which she accused the pro-EU Macron of representing “runaway globalisation” and lacking love for his country.

“We need to be extremely serious and mobilised, and not to think it’s a done deal, because a vote is earned, it’s fought for,” said Hollande, who on Monday had urged voters to back Macron and called Le Pen a “risk” for France.

After winning Sunday’s contest with 24.1 percent to Le Pen’s 21.3 percent, Macron gave an exuberant victory speech followed by a high-profile celebration at a famous Paris bistrot, drawing fire from some.

Socialist Party boss Jean-Christophe Cambadelis told French radio: “He was smug. He wrongly thought that it was a done deal. It’s not a done deal.”

Le Pen herself joined the bashing, saying “all French people saw that he had the feeling he’d already won. It’s not very respectful of democracy, of the voters”.

Macron defended the bistrot gathering in a France 2 television interview on Tuesday evening.

“I have no regrets. I take full responsibility,” he said firmly, adding his guests were mostly campaigners…

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