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German, Spanish and Portuguese leaders slam Marine Le Pen, ‘hope’ French will elect ‘democratic’ candidate

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa slammed French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen on Thursday in a joint op-ed for Le Monde.

The leaders accused Le Pen of conspiring with anti-democratic forces and said they “hoped” voters would choose incumbent President Emmanuel Macron’s vision for France.

“The second round of the French presidential election is not, for us, an election like the others,” Scholz, Sánchez and Costa wrote. “It is the choice between a Democratic candidate, who believes that France is stronger in a powerful and autonomous European Union (EU), and a far-right candidate, who openly sides with those who attack our freedom and our democracy.”

“We need … a France that defends justice and opposes autocrats like [Russian President] Vladimir Putin,” they added, arguing that they “hope” voters choose this vision for France.

The statement comes ahead of Sunday’s decisive second round of the French presidential election that has pit far-right candidate Le Pen against Macron for the second time. It also follows Wednesday’s highly anticipated debate between the two candidates, in which the incumbent came off as more convincing to voters, according to a snap poll published Thursday.

The sitting president is currently the pollsters’ clear favorite to win, with Macron at 55 percent and Le Pen 10 points behind at 45 percent.

“These types of moral lessons have a rather counterproductive effect on voters, be they sportspeople, millionaire artists or foreign heads of state,” said Philippe Vardon, a National Rally regional councilor and member of the party’s national committee. “They all equally know little about the real lives of French people.

“Other European governments support us, and would be very happy to see Marine Le Pen win and take on the project of moving to a ‘Europe of the Nations,’” he added.

Scholz, Sánchez and Costa praised France’s role as a European leader and argued that the country is strongest when it works within the EU, in a rare intervention by foreign leaders in a national election.

Although Le Pen has withdrawn her more radical proposals to exit the euro and leave the EU, much of her program — including drastic changes to the single market — is largely incompatible with the bloc as it currently stands, experts say.

The national leaders also slammed Brexit, arguing that the U.K.’s attempt to “take back control” only “disrupted Britain’s transport and supply chains, caused a collapse in its foreign trade and [created] inflation rates generally higher than in the eurozone.”

The U.K. Foreign Office did not immediately respond to POLITICO’s request for comment.

FRANCE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION POLL OF POLLS

For more polling data from across Europe visit POLITICO Poll of Polls.

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