On April 23, French voters head to the polls to elect a new leader.

Although polls are quite close, Emmanuel Macron is joint favourite with the National Front's Marine Le Pen to make it through the first round of the presidential election.

But is his En Marche! movement a breath of fresh air in French politics? Or is he the establishment candidate set to continue many of the unpopular neoliberal policies of the past decade?

"He's just a conservative with a new book cover; it's the same book, it's the same solutions," says Laura Slimani, adviser to Socialist presidential candidate Benoit Hamon.

"It's the solutions that the right and the left sometimes have tried for the past 30 years: liberalising the labour market, reducing public spending, harming our public services, not giving any rights."

One of Macron's campaign advisers, Benjamin Haddad, disagrees, claiming he's the only favourable candidate.

"He's the only one who's running on a positive and optimistic platform when it comes to Europe," says Haddad.

"If Macron wasn't a candidate today, we'd have a huge risk of having Marine Le Pen being elected. I think he's the best barrier against her."

In this week's Arena, Laura Slimani and Benjamin Haddad debate whether Macron will bring change to France, or if it will be more of the same.

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Source: Al Jazeera News