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French presidential candidates to clash in first TV debate

Europe
20.03.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Paris (dpa) - The top five candidates in the French presidential election will meet in the campaign‘s first televised debate on Monday, five weeks before the first round of voting on April 23.

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, centrist former economy minister Emmanuel Macron, conservative Francois Fillon, socialist Benoit Hamon and radical leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon will all take part.

Much of the focus is expected to be on Macron, who has never before run for elected office but is favourite in the opinion polls to come second to Le Pen in the first round and then beat the National Front leader in the decisive run-off vote on May 7.

Macron has been attacked by the left as a proponent of economic liberalism, while the right has accused him of planning to continue the policies of the unpopular incumbent socialist president, Francois Hollande, under whom he served as minister.

Fillon, meanwhile, will be hoping to win back attention for his policy proposals after judges last week placed him under formal investigation into allegations he got his wife a fake job, paid from public funds, as his parliamentary aide.

Hamon and Melenchon are moored in fourth and fifth place in the polls, suggesting that there is unlikely to be a left-wing candidate on the second-round ballot paper.

The Constitutional Council on Saturday officially announced that a total of 11 candidates had been validly nominated by 500 or more national and local elected officials. The remaining six have minimal support, according to opinion polls.

 

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