On Wednesday night, France’s two presidential candidates, the centrist 39-year-old former economy minister Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front engaged in a heated televised debate.

Macron and Le Pen disagree on almost everything — EU membership, relations with Russia, how to contain terrorism and how to improve France’s stagnant economy.

But how did the debate go down on social media?

Some views from the British public

Peter Timmins, who describes himself as a “blissfully retired European” decided to give some advice to British prime minister Theresa May by applauding the way the French candidates debated with each other.

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Harry Leslie Smith, who boasts over 90,000 followers on Twitter, also compared the UK to France, attacking May for refusing to engage in real debate.

David Head, who describes himself as “allergic to xenophobia, tribal nationalism & UKIP” makes the same observation.

Laurie Ryder from Gloucester in southwest England tweeted that she is surprised Macron is popular in Paris, despite his pro-immigration policies.

A 21-year-old who studies at Royal Holloway in London and is co-president of the university’s EU students’ society tweeted that she was disappointed by the tone of the debate.


Some views from the American public

Matthew Yglesias, who lives in Washington criticised Macron’s elitism. His tweet has already been liked over a thousand times.

Ashley from Texas tweeted in support of the National Front leader, suggesting Le Pen’s presidential win is imminent.

What are journalists saying?

Dave Weigel who covers politics for The Washington Post and has over 300,000 followers on Twitter tweeted that history will repeat itself — a Le Pen victory is unlikely.

Malkah Nobigrot is a broadcaster who works for one of Mexico’s popular news channels Efekto TV. She observed the passion of both candidates in her tweet.

A Swedish photographer and freelance journalist using the handle @PeterSweden7 complimented Le Pen’s manner during the debate. 

Katie Hopkins, who appeared on The Apprentice in 2007 and now writes for the Mail Online and presents on LBC was also critical of Macron.

Hopkins has over 600,000 followers on Twitter.

Others took a different view.

Pierre Briançon, a 64-year-old senior correspondent for Politico noted Le Pen’s descent into shouting towards the end of the debate.

Andrew Neil, BBC presenter and the former editor of The Sunday Times tweeted that Le Pen’s comments relating to war in Algeria played into Macron’s hands.

Neil boasts over 600,000 followers on Twitter.

Peter Allen, a journalist and author based in Paris tweeted that he agrees with Macron’s criticism of Le Pen’s understanding of economics.

The editorial director and columnist for Le Monde, the popular French daily newspaper, Sylvie Kauffmann noted Le Pen’s failure to clearly outline her own policies for the country at the beginning of the debate.

Rather than focusing on either candidate, the Paris bureau chief for The Guardian pointed out that the environment was not mentioned during the debate.

The deputy global news editor of Buzzfeed, Ryan Broderick decided that neither Le Pen nor Macron emerged as the clear winner of the debate.

How about people involved in research, policy-making and academia?

Michiel van Hulten, a 48-year-old former Dutch politician who is now an independent consultant and a visiting senior fellow at the London School of Economics (LSE) applauded Macron’s performance.

Unlike Macron’s use of facts and figures, Le Pen talked “nonsense,” according to Timothy Garton Ash, a historian and professor of European studies at Oxford University.

Camille Bullot also tweeted her support for Macron. She is the director of operations and engagement at the European Patients’ Forum, a public health organisation working across Europe.

Cecile Alduy, a professor of French literature at Stanford University said that there were stark differences between the way Le Pen and Macron handled the debate.