France’s election

Eleven Presidential candidates in marathon TV debate

All eleven candidates in France’s presidential election have discussed employment and welfare issues in a televised debate Tuesday night, ahead of the first round of voting.

Mr Fillon and Mr Le Pen were humiliated by the New Anti-capitalist Party (CORR)runner Philippe Poutou over the criminal enquiries surrounding them.

Independent candidate Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen are running equal, in recent opinion polls. They are joined in the debate by conservative François Fillon, Socialist Benoît Hamon, and far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, as well as the candidates of six smaller parties.

A poll has shown 27 per cent of viewers considered Emmanuel Macron to have “the qualities necessary” to be head of state. This compared to 20 per cent for the conservative candidate, Francois Fillon, and just 13 per cent for Marine Le Pen, of the far-Right National Front (FN).

The first round of the election takes place on April 23, followed by a runoff between the two leading candidates on May 7.

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