Round two: Who were the winners of France's presidential debate?

Cheryl Sanders
April 17, 2017

Investors are concerned the wave of frustration with political elites behind Britain's vote to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump in the United States could sweep Le Pen into power in France. Both polls had Fillon lagging well behind in third place.

Macron replied by saying that his rival was repeating "the same lies" uttered by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the National Front, for 40 years.

In an interview with magazine Femme Actuelle on 27 March, the Front National leader was asked if her niece Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, who is popular with the conservative wing of the Front National, would have a role if she becomes the president of France.

French presidential election candidate Marine Le Pen gestures as she speaks during a debate on April 4, 2017 in La Plaine-Saint-Denis.

Speaking alongside 10 other candidates as things got a little heated in the second of three televised French presidential election debates, she said that her presidency would improve the lives of French citizens.

She said she is "politically persecuted" and added that in any case, as a member of the European Parliament, she has "parliamentary immunity".

The poll - which surveyed 14,300 people between March 31 and April 2 - said Macron would beat Le Pen in the May second-round vote by 61 percent to 39 percent.

"I want the French people to decide after negotiations, whatever their results", she said, adding that she would respect the result even if voters made a decision to stay in the EU.

The chances of the Socialist Party's candidate, Benoit Hamon, of winning the first round are very slim after the failure of the Hollande administration to maintain security and to generate economic growth.

Fillon, a 63-year-old conservative prime minister, was the frontrunner in the campaign until he was hit by allegations that he paid his wife, a son and daughter hundreds of thousands of euros of public money for minimal work.

France's top candidates for president are advocating opposite economic policies during a crucial debate.

Jacques Cheminade, head of the LaRouche movement, railed against what he called the "financial dictatorship" and Philippe Poutou of the New Anti-Capitalist Party slammed "those who stuff themselves". He says "I provided a means to eliminate me from the presidential race".

However, with no standout victor, the debate did more to highlight the fissures in France than to indicate who might be the next leader of the country.

The final result of an election that is being watched closely around the world is still seen as highly unpredictable.

Dissatisfaction and outright hostility towards mainstream politics is high in France and surveys show around a third of voters plan to abstain.

The snap poll following the debate placed Le Pen in fourth as the most convincing performer, two places behind Macron.

Other reports by iNewsToday