It’s been a big night in the French Presidential election with the first major TV debate between the top five candidates. Ahead of the event the assumption had been that the contender most at risk was the young centrist independent and odds-on betting favourite, Emmanuel Macron.
The event went on for a staggering three and a half hours.
An Elabe poll afterwards asked viewers who they though was the most convincing. According to Reuters the split was Macron 29%, the firebrand leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon 20%, the Republican and Francois Fillon and far-right leader Marine Le Pen were tied in third place with 19%, while the Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon got 11%.
The event has had almost no impact on the betting with Macron now rated as a 61% chance on Betfair and Le Pen on 21%.
Debate viewers are not representative of the electorate and we’ll have to wait for the first voting intention polls.
The Reuters report noted:-
“Macron, a former investment banker, came under criticism for private donations made to his campaign when Hamon suggested he could fall under the influence of lobbies in the pharmaceutical, banking or oil industry.
Macron retorted that he was the only candidate who was not funded by public money, since his party is new and had not yet benefited from public subsidies. “I pledge to be controlled by no one,” he said.
“The traditional parties, those that have for decades failed to solve yesterday’s problems, won’t be able to do it tomorrow either,” said Macron, who made a name for himself by criticising sacred cows of the French “social model” such as the 35-hour workweek.
Le Pen repeatedly stressed her opposition to the European Union, saying she did not want to see France become a “vague region” of the bloc. “I don’t want to be the vice chancellor of Angela Merkel,” she said, referring to the German leader.”
The first round of the election takes place on Sunday April 23rd with the runoff between the top two a fortnight later.