French Mega-Debate Seeks to Swing Undecided Voters

French Mega-Debate Seeks to Swing Undecided VotersFrench Mega-Debate Seeks to Swing Undecided Voters

All 11 candidates in France's presidential election, from frontrunners Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron to also-rans, took part in a giant TV debate on Tuesday seeking to swing undecided voters.

With just 19 days until the first round of voting in a rollercoaster contest, the debate could play a crucial role in swinging momentum, with support for 39-year-old Macron still seen as fragile. Polls show far-right candidate Le Pen and centrist independent Macron locked together at around 26% heading into the first round on April 23. Le Pen, 48, performed relatively poorly in the first debate, failing to score points against her rivals although she did not make any major slip-ups either.

One candidate who needs to shine is conservative Francois Fillon who has begun clawing back ground after his campaign was almost derailed by criminal charges over claims he paid his wife hundreds of thousands of dollars for a fake parliamentary job.

Fillon has displayed signs he is attracting support again despite his legal woes. He has risen to around 17% and the 63-year-old former prime minister is an assured performer in debates as he pushes his wish to slash public spending.

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