French candidates spar over corruption in debate

"I come from a region that is full of graveyards", Macron said in criticism of Le Pen, the leader of the eurosceptic National Front.

The far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon was seen getting 15 per cent, up 3.5 points and ahead of Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon on 10 per cent. And though Le Pen may see more eye-to-eye with President Trump than other candidates, Boston University global relations professor William Keylor cautioned that a nationalist France wouldn't necessarily be a boon to the U.S. They show her losing the decider to favorite Emmanuel Macron, who is staunchly pro-euro. (Onwards!) which has no seats in parliament.

It was the first time that all candidates had debated before the first round of a presidential election in France with many observers sceptical about whether the format would help inform voters.

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.

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Fillon, the one-time leading man, has fallen spectacularly from grace - and in the polls - lurching from one disaster to the next at seemingly breakneck speed.

Among Fillon supporters, 44 percent would take Macron and 24 percent Le Pen.

Mélenchon set social media alight on Tuesday night for his memorable lines, telling Le Pen to "give us a break about religion", asking if her proposition to put religious symbols in town halls was her "vision of secularism".


According to Le Pen, investors "are anxious because they know they will no longer be able to make the profits they made previously".

Fillon faced calls to withdraw from the presidential race, but has remained defiant, even after prosecutors said they would be investigating him over the "fake jobs" scandal, as well as over allegations he received expensive suits as a gift.

It had Le Pen and Macron on 23.5 percent each. That spread now sits at 0.67%, close to the four-year high of 0.72% recorded when Le Pen launched her campaign on February 5.

Communist firebrand Nathalie Arthaud vowed to protect French workers from being "strangled by the capitalist system", while anti-EU nationalists such as Francois Asselineau, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan and Jacques Cheminade enjoyed rare airtime.

He clashed with Le Pen during the debate over her focus on the tensions created by religion in politics, but his policies advocating greater worker protection, and his hostility to the European Union in its current form, are similar to hers.

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

Overall, there is a chance that the market has been wrong-footed by the polls, and Le Pen is not guaranteed a spot in the second round.

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