France has been on a make or break, do or die atmosphere these past few months leading up to an extremely intense presidential election. This particular poll has been deemed very important as the candidate who wins the office can effect some sweeping changes in the country ranging from immigration control to continued French membership in the European Union (EU).

The election which took place April 23 saw two candidates stand out from a pool of eleven, far-right Marine Le Pen and centrist emmanuel macron. These two are set to go at it again in a run-off poll taking place on May 7.

But before this fated date, Macron and Le Pen had the opportunity to verbally bloody each other’s noses in one final televised debate.

Ill-tempered argument

The debate, taking place four days before the second round of elections on May 3, comprised of over two hours of back and forth haranguing and deconstructive speechifying between the respective leaders and candidates of the far-right National Front (FN) and En Marche! (EM) parties.

As the moderators tried to steer the debate flow between Le Pen and Macron into a more expository direction, the two finalists instead, were more interested in tearing at each other’s political platforms, program proposals, and even one another’s personalities.

Marine Le Pen, despite claiming to have toned down her party’s hardline racist and anti-Semitic stances on certain policies, was still calling for France to leave the EU and NATO, separating from communal trade agreements, and sealing the country’s borders from the further admission of refugees and immigrants.

However, Emmanuel macron, a former banker who became Economy Minister in incumbent President Francois Hollande’s administration, has a more inclusive and globalist position in these same issues. Aside from pushing for continuity in policy terms, he’s also looking into lighting a fire under entrenched French political elites, for which he comes into more conflict with Le Pen, who took over the FN from her father.

No belt to hit below

A lion’s share of the debate went to the two candidates belittling one another’s accomplishments and qualifications. While Le Pen took subtle jabs at Macron marrying his high-school drama teacher, the En Marche! leader accused his FN counterpart of selling France into a spirit of global economic defeatism and called her out as a “high priestess of fear” for hyping up terror attacks in the country to justify her close-border policies.

While some observers are opining that Macron’s soft views on immigration may cost him the vote a second time around, a survey conducted of the audience shortly after the debate conclusion responded that 63% of them thought the centrist Macron’s argument was more convincing. Only the run-off polls this coming Sunday will spell a more definitive answer to which of them France wants more.