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France Holds Democratic Presidential TV Debate

French presidential candidates at the second televised debate on BFM TV and CNEWS on April 4French presidential candidates at the second televised debate on BFM TV and CNEWS on April 4

The second debate in France’s wild presidential campaign on Tuesday night was touted as unprecedented.

The contest marked the first in French television history to feature every candidate in the race before the pack is pared down to two finalists on April 23, France24 reported.

But nearly four hours later, well after midnight Wednesday Paris time, with all 11 candidates having spoken for about 18 minutes each in an interminable cacophony, it was clear why the enterprise had never been tried.

The open contest on the BFM TV and CNEWS networks, while laudable in principle, was absurd in effect with so much on the line. And the top candidates, many of whom have been openly lukewarm about contesting a similar third broadcast on April 20, might be wise to stay away.

The campaign’s first debate, on March 20, had featured only the five frontrunners and been an eminently watchable heavyweight battle. Criticized as undemocratic, that contest at least enjoyed a certain logic. Combined, those five participants—National Front spitfire Marine Le Pen, independent-centrist frontrunner Emmanuel Macron, embattled conservative Francois Fillon, hard-line Socialist nominee Benoit Hamon and far-leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon—are polling at more than 92% of the vote.

Tuesday night’s contest added six more hopefuls, five of whom are polling 0-1% on voter surveys.

 

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