French candidates face off in first debate

French election: Top 5 candidates trade barbs in first debate

France's election is shaping up as the most unpredictable in decades, with far-right National Front (FN) leader Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron tied in polls for the April 23 first round, while the mainstream left and right languish in third and fourth place.

Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon and far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, both looking to boost their poll numbers, were the first to take swipes at Le Pen. The election, in which several veterans have already been sent packing by voters fed up with politics as usual, could hinge on turnout.

Supporters of Macron, who styles himself as a progressive, are among the most likely to switch camp while Le Pen's are seen as the most loyal.

Fillon, a one-time frontrunner who has fallen back over by a scandal surrounding the employment of his wife as a parliamentary assistant, has been put under formal investigation, a first for a French presidential candidate. The ex-prime minister appeared tired and at times absent during the debate. After a thinly veiled dig from Le Pen suggesting that the former banker would be beholden to financial lobbies if elected, Macron told her: "You'd be bored without me".

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.

"You don't leave the euro and the protection afforded by the European Central Bank.for an adventure. that would ruin borrowers and savers alike", Fillon, who presented himself as the most experienced pair of hands, scolded.

The policy of France in the fight against the Islamic State (Daesh) jihadist group proved to be a failure, The Republicans' presidential candidate Francois Fillon said.

Three more accomplices of Prajapati held; sons, nephew quizzed
A woman from Chitrakoot had moved the Supreme Court after the police had allegedly refused to file a rape case against Prajapati. From the police station, Prajapati went to the hospital in his personal SUV along with his followers, followed by a police jeep.

Macron met with Merkel last week and stressed the need to work with Germany rather than succumb to the temptation to criticise France's larger neighbour in an election campaign.

Donald Trump's election as USA president and Britain's vote to leave the European Union were both supposed to be influenced by voters who felt left out of the economic recovery.

"This is called "project fear".

Le Pen came under fire from Fillon who said a so-called "Frexit" would create economic and social chaos.

But no one is making any firm predictions after Donald Trump's shock election in the United States and Britain's surprise decision to quit the EU.

The TV debate was the top trending topic on Twitter in France on Monday before it even started.

The right-wing spiral of Germany's anti-EU Alternative für Deutschland party (AfD) has brought it shoulder to shoulder with France's National Front (NF).

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