Obama backs Macron in French elections

  • 05/05/2017

Former US President Barack Obama has endorsed centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron for France's presidential election in a video message in which he praised Macron for appealing "to people's hopes and not their fears".

"The French election is very important to the future of France and the values that we care so much about," Mr Obama said in the message, distributed by Macron's camp on Thursday.

Mr Macron "has stood up for liberal values... He is committed to a better future for the French people. He appeals to people's hopes and not their fears," the former president said.

"I am supporting Emmanuel Macron to lead you forward," Obama said, concluding his statement with the French title of Macron's party "En Marche!" (Onwards!) and "Vive la France!".

Mr Macron is widely seen as the favourite to beat the National Front's Marine Le Pen in Sunday's runoff vote.

It comes after Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen clashed over their vision of France's future, the euro and ways of fighting terrorism in an ill-tempered television debate.

Macron went into Wednesday's debate with a strong opinion poll lead of 20 percentage points over the National Front's Ms Le Pen in what is widely seen as France's most important election in decades.

The two-and-a-half hour debate was a last major chance for Ms Le Pen to persuade voters of the merits of her program, which includes a crackdown on illegal immigration, ditching the euro and holding a referendum on EU membership.

However, 63 percent of viewers found Mr Macron more convincing, according to a snap poll for BFMTV, reinforcing his status as favourite.