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A protester has been dragged across the floor at a Marine Le Pen press conference after holding up a heart-shaped sign showing the presidential candidate with Vladimir Putin.

The Green councillor was tackled to the floor after interrupting the event in Paris with the photo of the National Rally leader meeting the Russian strongman in Moscow in 2017.

The woman was immediately pinned to the ground by Le Pen’s security and dragged by her hands and legs out of the room.

It came as Le Pen vowed today to hold a referendum on reintroducing the death penalty in France and ban wind farms, prompting fierce criticism from her rival President Emmanuel Macron. 

The National Rally leader had said, if elected, she thought it conceivable to hold a public referendum on reintroducing the death penalty. Le Pen has previously said that personally she would vote against such a step. 

Le Pen has also said she would ban wind turbines in France, which she calls ‘horrors that cost us a fortune’, prompting Macron to slam her plan as an ‘aberration’.

With just 10 days to before a run-off presidential vote that will determine who will lead France for the next five years, polls show Le Pen is slightly behind the centrist president, but the contest promises to be tight. 

A protester has been dragged across the floor at a Marine Le Pen press conference after holding up a heart-shaped sign showing the presidential candidate with Vladimir Putin

A protester has been dragged across the floor at a Marine Le Pen press conference after holding up a heart-shaped sign showing the presidential candidate with Vladimir Putin

A protester has been dragged across the floor at a Marine Le Pen press conference after holding up a heart-shaped sign showing the presidential candidate with Vladimir Putin

Marine Le Pen has been steadily closing the gap on Macron in French presidential election polls

After she was ejected, the protester said: ‘We just wanted to make visible the fact that Marine Le Pen’s diplomacy is forgiving of dictators and remind you that she had been a strong partner of Vladimir Putin. 

‘We wanted to remind you that Marine Le Pen as president would not have the same position with regard to Ukraine, to Russia. We need to remember the danger that is the National Front.’

A leaflet in the form of a love letter from Putin to Le Pen was also distributed by another activist from the so-called Ibiza Collective, founded by elected leftists in the wake of the education minister’s holiday to the Balearics after closing schools during Covid.

The mock letter said: ‘My dear Marine, I am trying one last time to contact you. You have not responded to me for weeks and I do not understand your silence.

The Green councillor was tackled to the floor after interrupting the event in Paris with the photo of the National Rally leader

The Green councillor was tackled to the floor after interrupting the event in Paris with the photo of the National Rally leader

The Green councillor was tackled to the floor after interrupting the event in Paris with the photo of the National Rally leader

The woman was immediately pinned to the ground by Le Pen's security and dragged by her hands and legs out of the room

The woman was immediately pinned to the ground by Le Pen's security and dragged by her hands and legs out of the room

The woman was immediately pinned to the ground by Le Pen’s security and dragged by her hands and legs out of the room

‘You say that our interests are no longer the same and I do not understand how, after all I have done for you, you can end our relationship without an explanation.’

The letter mentions how her political party received €9million from a Kremlin-linked bank after French banks refused to provide credit.

It concludes: ‘I am sending you this beautiful photo of the two of us, I heard you threw away all the leaflets it was printed on.

‘But you were so proud of formalising our relationship. I do not understand it. With love, Vladimir.’ 

Le Pen reacted furiously to the protest and said people should be outraged that election press conferences can be disrupted.

She said: ‘What people should be outraged about is that we can’t hold a second-round campaign without press conferences being disrupted, without us being attacked, without us being threatened.’

Le Pen reacted furiously to the protest and said people should be outraged that election press conferences can be disrupted

Le Pen reacted furiously to the protest and said people should be outraged that election press conferences can be disrupted

Le Pen reacted furiously to the protest and said people should be outraged that election press conferences can be disrupted

A security officer blocks journalists at the press conference yesterday while the protester was being detained

A security officer blocks journalists at the press conference yesterday while the protester was being detained

A security officer blocks journalists at the press conference yesterday while the protester was being detained

Le Pen has been forced to distance herself from previous supportive comments of Putin and Russia since their savage invasion of Ukraine.

She said: ‘Until the triggering of the war in Ukraine, I actually believed that it was in the interest of France to have closer ties with Russia again, and prevent Russia from building such a solid alliance with China.’ 

The controversial politician visited the Kremlin in 2017 and praised Putin’s ‘new vision’ for the world and accepted their loans to fund her party.

Last month, she had to discard a million election leaflets emblazoned with a photo of her and the Russian leader. 

The right-wing leader also said a police officer who manhandled the protester got injured in the process. 

She claimed: ‘It was a policeman who challenged that woman and who got hurt in the process. He got injured while detaining her and couldn’t complete the job of removing her.’

But French media later identified the man who initially tackled the protester as one of the National Rally’s security team.

Interior minister Gérald Darmanin called on her to apologise to the police, saying: ‘Have the honesty to admit the individual who drags the protester along the floor is a member of your own security detail.’   

It comes amid an increasingly hostile election between Le Pen and the incumbent president Emmanuel Macron.

After being accused of being ‘authoritarian’, Le Pen said she has never seen as authoritarian a president as Macron for his handling of the gilets jaunes protests.   

A protester holds a photo of Le Pen shaking hands with Putin and reading "Marine Le Pen: friend of war criminals"

A protester holds a photo of Le Pen shaking hands with Putin and reading "Marine Le Pen: friend of war criminals"

A protester holds a photo of Le Pen shaking hands with Putin and reading ‘Marine Le Pen: friend of war criminals’

‘This (criticism) makes me smile because we have never had a president who showed more signs of extremism than Emmanuel Macron,’ Le Pen told broadcaster France 2. 

In the interview Le Pen reiterated that, if elected, she thought it conceivable to hold a public referendum on reintroducing the death penalty. She had previously said that personally she would vote against such a step. 

Yesterday, the candidate warned against sending any more weapons to Ukraine, and called for a rapprochement between NATO and Russia once Moscow’s war in Ukraine winds down.

She also confirmed will pull France out of NATO’s military command and dial back French support for the whole European Union.

Macron, a pro-EU centrist, is facing a harder-than-expected fight to stay in power, in part because the economic impact of the war is hitting poor households the hardest.

France’s European partners are worried that a possible Le Pen presidency could undermine Western unity as the US and Europe seek to support Ukraine and end Russia’s ruinous war on its neighbor.

Asked about military aid to Ukraine, Le Pen said she would continue defence and intelligence support.

‘(But) I’m more reserved about direct arms deliveries. Why? Because … the line is thin between aid and becoming a co-belligerent,’ the far-right leader said, citing concerns about an ‘escalation of this conflict that could bring a whole number of countries into a military commitment.’ 

Marine Le Pen vows to hold a referendum on reintroducing the death penalty in France and BAN wind farms in race to beat Emmanuel Macron to the French presidency

Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has vowed to hold a referendum on reintroducing the death penalty in France and ban wind farms, prompting fierce criticism from her rival President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron accused Le Pen of retaining her ‘authoritarian’ and extremist views after she refused to rule out the return of the death penalty and banned a team of reporters from a press conference.

The National Rally leader had said, if elected, she thought it conceivable to hold a public referendum on reintroducing the death penalty. Le Pen has previously said that personally she would vote against such a step. 

Le Pen has also said she would ban wind turbines in France, which she calls ‘horrors that cost us a fortune’, prompting Macron to slam her plan as an ‘aberration’.

With just 10 days to before a run-off presidential vote that will determine who will lead France for the next five years, polls show Le Pen is slightly behind the centrist president, but the contest promises to be tight. 

Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen (pictured in Paris on Wednesday) has vowed to hold a referendum on reintroducing the death penalty in France and ban wind farms, prompting fierce criticism from her rival President Emmanuel Macron

Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen (pictured in Paris on Wednesday) has vowed to hold a referendum on reintroducing the death penalty in France and ban wind farms, prompting fierce criticism from her rival President Emmanuel Macron

Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen (pictured in Paris on Wednesday) has vowed to hold a referendum on reintroducing the death penalty in France and ban wind farms, prompting fierce criticism from her rival President Emmanuel Macron 

President Emmanuel Macron accused Le Pen of retaining her 'authoritarian' and extremist views after she refused to rule out the return of the death penalty and banned a team of reporters from a press conference. Pictured: Macron meets locals as he campaigns in Le Havre, western France, on Thursday

President Emmanuel Macron accused Le Pen of retaining her 'authoritarian' and extremist views after she refused to rule out the return of the death penalty and banned a team of reporters from a press conference. Pictured: Macron meets locals as he campaigns in Le Havre, western France, on Thursday

President Emmanuel Macron accused Le Pen of retaining her ‘authoritarian’ and extremist views after she refused to rule out the return of the death penalty and banned a team of reporters from a press conference. Pictured: Macron meets locals as he campaigns in Le Havre, western France, on Thursday

Marine Le Pen has been steadily closing the gap on Macron in French presidential election polls

While the cost of living is the top election theme, energy policies are closely linked to that, and the candidates have put forward very different policies on the renewables sector. 

Both would boost the nuclear sector, but Macron wants France to build more wind turbines, while Le Pen would end all subsidies to the solar and wind energy sector, apply a moratorium on both and dismantle already existing turbines.

‘Exiting renewables today would be a complete aberration, we would be the only country in the world doing that,’ Macron told France Bleu radio on a visit to the northern France port of Le Havre. Her plan, he said, would mean ‘spending hundreds of millions of euros dismantling existing wind turbines’.

Building nuclear plants would take time and would not cover the drop in production from dismantling the turbines, he added.

Le Pen argues in her election platform that boosting the nuclear sector as well as hydro power and thermal energy would provide France with the energy mix it needs.

As well as seeking to cut reliance on fossil fuels in general to meet climate targets, EU states have been looking to renewables to help wean themselves off Russian gas after the West imposed sanctions due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The French Renewable Energy Trade Association (SER) said on Thursday that Le Pen’s plans would be ‘a major step backwards for our country and for the climate, by increasing our greenhouse gas emissions and our imports of fossil fuels, at the expense of taxpayers and the most precarious consumers’.

Le Pen’s team did not respond to a request for comment.

Macron shakes hands with members of the public after a campaign stop at the Andre Malraux art museum, in Le Havre, France, on Thursday

Macron shakes hands with members of the public after a campaign stop at the Andre Malraux art museum, in Le Havre, France, on Thursday

Macron shakes hands with members of the public after a campaign stop at the Andre Malraux art museum, in Le Havre, France, on Thursday

Earlier on Thursday, Le Pen rebuffed criticism by Macron who accused her of retaining her ‘authoritarian’ and extremist views. 

‘This (criticism) makes me smile because we have never had a president who showed more signs of extremism than Emmanuel Macron,’ Le Pen told broadcaster France 2, citing police action against political demonstrations, such as the yellow vest movement. 

Slightly behind in opinion polls, Le Pen has successfully softened her image and tapped into anger over the cost of living and a perception Macron is disconnected from everyday hardships. Some polls show her victory in the April 24 runoff is within the margin of error.

Yesterday, Macron launched a scathing attack on Le Pen, saying her true ‘authoritarian’ intentions were showing after she banned a group of reporters from a press conference and refused to rule out a return to the death penalty. 

‘Despite all the efforts, the true face of the far-right is coming back. It is a face that doesn’t respect freedoms, the constitutional framework, press independence and fundamental freedoms, rights,’ Macron told France 2 television on Wednesday.  

Such comments are the start of an ‘authoritarian drift,’ said Macron, who has of late categorised Le Pen’s manifesto as full of lies and false promises that conceal a far-right agenda ultimately leading to France leaving the European Union.

Le Pen said the show whose journalists were refused accreditation was entertainment rather than journalism and that she reserved the right – now as a candidate, and later as president if elected – to choose who may attend her news conferences.

She retorted that Macron was showing his ‘weakness’ and was in no position to give lessons on how to handle the press.

Macron has had a bumpy relationship with the media during his presidency and last week was criticised for refusing to take part in several prime time shows ahead of the first round.

‘He’d be better off going into the substance of my project. It is known, transparent. We can discuss it and argue over our disagreements,’ Le Pen said at a campaign stop outside of Paris.

Emmanuel Macron 

Cost of living: Remove all tax on inheritance valued less than €150,000, abolish TV licence fee

Immigration: Reform the asylum system to make it more efficient, long-stay permit is only given to people who pass a French language exam and are professionally successful

Europe: Strengthen the EU and its armies, increase the continent’s energy autonomy, fill the gap left by Angela Merkel as de facto EU leader

Pensions: Raise the pension age from 62 to 65 to keep the pension system afloat. Minimum pensions would be raised to €1,100 a month

Foreign policy: Took a leading role in negotiations with Vladimir Putin   

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Marine Le Pen 

Cost of living: Lower VAT on fuel and energy from 20% to 5.5%. Income tax for under-30s scrapped as well as TV licence fee. Highways renationalised 

Immigration: Ban Muslim headscarf from public spaces, hold referendum on immigration to prioritise native French people for jobs, housing and healthcare

Europe: Dropped previous vow to leave EU and euro, but wants to cut EU budget contributions. Wants French law to take primacy over EU law

Pensions: Drop pension age to 60 for those who started work before 20

Foreign policy: Condemned Russia but wants to maintain an alliance on ‘certain substantive issues’. Pull out of NATO’s integrated command structure 

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Macron, a pro-European centrist, became president in 2017 after easily beating Le Pen when voters rallied behind him to keep the far-right out of power. This time, he faces a tougher challenge. 

Separately, France’s election watchdog said it had sought clarifications from Le Pen’s campaign over statements it had falsely attributed to public authorities on criminality and immigration, one of her core themes.

It said Le Pen did not need to change her leaflets which were already printed, however.

Le Pen called the step launched by the campaign control commission, or CNCCEP, a political ‘manoeuvre’.

The CNCCEP said it had been looking into claims made by Le Pen about a statistical spike in intentional bodily harm since 2017 and the number of immigrants who have entered France legally since that year, both of which the candidate had falsely attributed to the French interior ministry.

‘The Commission asked the candidate to present a new version of her declaration without this attribution’, the CNCCEP said in a statement, but added it would not ask Le Pen’s campaign to withdraw already printed material as this would be ‘disproportionate.’

Later on Wednesday, Le Pen, a eurosceptic who had long professed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, gave a news conference on her foreign policy plans, which she said was aimed at clearing up what she called misunderstandings.

‘Nobody is against Europe,’ said Le Pen, who has ditched plans to leave the EU or the euro, which cost her votes in past elections.

She said she aimed to reform the EU from the inside, in what critics say would be a ‘Frexit’ departure from the bloc in all but name. 

Ahead of the second round, both candidates are seeking to win over left-wing voters, especially from hard-left third-place candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon.

Melenchon’s party launched a consultation on Wednesday to ask his supporters if they planned to vote for Macron, put in a blank ballot or not vote.

Marine Le Pen narrowly nudged ahead of Jean-Luc Melenchon in the first round of voting, but fresh polls suggest she is closing the gap to Macron

Marine Le Pen narrowly nudged ahead of Jean-Luc Melenchon in the first round of voting, but fresh polls suggest she is closing the gap to Macron

Marine Le Pen narrowly nudged ahead of Jean-Luc Melenchon in the first round of voting, but fresh polls suggest she is closing the gap to Macron

‘Neither Emmanuel Macron nor Marine Le Pen are up to the task,’ Melenchon wrote. ‘However, the two are not equivalent. Marine Le Pen adds a dangerous ferment of ethnic and religious exclusion to the project of social damage that she shares with Emmanuel Macron.’

Even after the consultation closes on Saturday, Melenchon signalled he would give voters no instruction on what they should do on the 24th – whereas other parties have urged voters to back Macron in order to block the far-right.

Macron, who already had said he would increase pensions this summer if re-elected, told TF1 television that it would be a 4 per cent increase. On Monday, he opened the door to potentially pushing the retirement age from 62 at the moment to 64, rather than to 65, his initial proposal.

Macron’s efforts to woo leftwing voters could be hurt after former conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy, a reviled figure on the left, endorsed him and forced Macron to deny there was any wider political agreement.

Macron will need a new majority after legislative elections in June and political sources have said Sarkozy’s endorsement could pave the way for an alliance between the centre-right Les Republicains party and Macron’s LaRem.       

The far-right candidate is closing the gap with Macron ahead of the second round of the country’s presidential election according to a new poll.

The OpinionWay-Kea Partners poll published by Les Echos and Radio Classique on Tuesday showed Le Pen narrowing the gap by one point as voter turnout continued to fall, although Macron would still win the run-off with 54 per cent of the vote.

The poll’s turnout estimate further declined by 1 per cent to 70 per cent, down from 74.56 per cent in 2017, which was already the lowest since 1969. 

Le Pen secured a run-off against the president in the French elections after she received 23.15 per cent of the vote in the first round on Sunday, just four points behind Macron and the best-ever showing by a far-right party.

The two will now face off in a head-to-head battle on April 24, with pollsters predicting a far closer showdown than their 2017 battle, with the National Rally leader currently forecast to take 49 per cent of the vote in the second round, well within the margin of error for victory.   

Source: Daily Mail

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