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Germany, Portugal, Spain leaders urge French to back Macron

PARIS (AFP) – The leaders of Germany, Portugal and Spain yesterday urged France to back centrist President Emmanuel Macron against far-right leader Marine Le Pen in elections this weekend, in a highly unusual intervention in the domestic politics of a fellow European
Union state.

The run-off vote on Sunday is “for us not an election like others”, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa and Spanish Premier Pedro Sanchez wrote in the Le Monde daily.

France faces a “choice between a democratic candidate… and a candidate of the extreme right who openly joins ranks with those who attack our liberty and democracy”, they said.

They expressed hope the French will choose a France that has been a “beacon of democracy”.

“It is this France that is also on the ballot paper on April 24,” they said.

The three leaders said populists and extreme right figures across Europe turned to Russian President Vladimir Putin as an “ideological and political model and echoed his nationalist claims”.

Le Pen met Putin in the Kremlin in 2017 and accepted Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, while her party also took a loan from a Russian-Czech bank.

She changed her tone and condemned the invasion, a stance she repeated on Wednesday night’s TV debate with Macron. But the leaders said, “We should not forget it, even if the politicians now try to take their distance from the aggressor.”

Centrist presidential candidate and French President Emmanuel Macron meets residents during a campaign stop in Saint-Denis. PHOTO: AP