President Emmanuel Macron accused far-right leader Marine Le Pen of trying to divide France, while the latter called on citizens to read her manifesto and wake up to what she called the failures of Macron's term.
France’s presidential contenders are racing on the last day of campaigning to drive home why their particular political brand — and not the other’s — is the right choice for voters.
President Emmanuel Macron, the centrist incumbent, accused on Friday far-right leader Marine Le Pen of trying to divide France.
“The far right lives off fear and anger creating resentment. It says that excluding parts of society is the answer,” Macron told France Inter radio, ahead of the Sunday runoff.
“(But) I want to try to answer it... (and) make us live as a united nation,” said Macron, who has campaigned on a message of unity in one of the world's wealthiest large democracies.
He acknowledged that Le Pen had alacrity and resonance among some voters.
"She has managed to draw on some of what we did not manage to do, on some of the things I did not manage to do to pacify some of the anger, respond quickly to what voters want," Macron said.
The two candidates must make their final pitches to the French electorate before campaigning for the presidential runoff is legally required to end at midnight.
Macron is going to Figeac, a town deep in France's southern heartland, and is due to speak there during the afternoon.
Le Pen is in the north, in Etaples, at a marketplace near Le Touquet — a pointed choice on the final day of campaigning given that it is the constituency in which Macron himself votes.
Speaking on C-News, Le Pen urged the French to read her manifesto and wake up to what she called failures of Macron's five-year term.
“I call on the French to check for themselves and form an opinion by reading what I propose to do to respond to the rampage that was Emmanuel Macron,” she said.
The National Rally leader displayed a combative spirit following a bitter televised debate with Macron this week that buoyed some of her polls numbers.
During that televised debate on Wednesday, Macron had warned that Le Pen risked sparking a "civil war" if she was elected and implemented her plans to ban the Muslim headscarf in public.
Polls show Macron has a clear advantage over Le Pen of some 10 percentage points but allies warn nothing is in the bag due to the large number of undecided voters.
In a highly unusual intervention in the domestic politics of a fellow EU state, the leaders of Germany, Portugal and Spain urged France to back Macron against Le Pen.