Emmanuel Macron under fire for TV no-show as poll shows Marine Le Pen in strongest position yet

Ms Le Pen’s ratings have been buoyed in recent weeks as growing numbers of voters express concern over the cost of living, an issue she has campaigned on doggedly for months. 

In a sign of the pressure on Mr Macron, he was met by a barrage of criticism after refusing to take part in a Tuesday night TV programme alongside other candidates.

“He hasn’t taken part in a single cross-examination,” an unnamed candidate complained to Politico. “The war is a convenient excuse.”

Mr Macron’s aides said he was unable to take part in France 2’s Élysée 2022 programme due to a “scheduling problem”.  

Five other candidates – the centre-Right’s Valérie Pécresse, Socialist Anne Hidalgo, far-Right Éric Zemmour, environmentalist Yannick Jadot and anti-capitalist Philippe Poutou – are taking part. Ms Le Pen has appeared twice on the show in recent weeks. 

Anger over Macron’s absence

Mr Macron’s absence has sparked anger among France 2 journalists, who pointed out in a public letter that he has not appeared once on the public channel since declaring his re-election bid.

He has meanwhile appeared on TF1, a privately-owned rival, four times, while rejecting invitations to appear on a string of other radio stations and TV channels.

Mr Macron has nonetheless been belatedly hitting the campaign trail, warning at a rally of some 30,000 supporters in Paris last weekend that Ms Le Pen could pull off a shock Brexit-style victory. 

He was out mingling with the crowds in Spézet, Brittany, during a low-key campaign stop on Tuesday.

“You can count on me,” he insisted. “You can count on my determination.”

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