Emmanuel Macron seen as winning first televised presidential debate

This came during the televised debate, which brought the main presidential election candidates into conflict with each other.

A snap opinion poll showed Macron, a 39-year-old former economy minister who has never run for public office before, was the most convincing among the top five contenders in a marathon debate of almost 3½ that delivered no knock-outs. 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".

Polls now show Mr. Fillon, the one-time favourite, crashing out in the first round behind Ms. Le Pen and Mr. Macron, following revelations of payments by Parliament to his wife and children as well as loans and lavish gifts from friends.

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.

One thing that's been interesting to watch is Francois Fillon.

Macron boosted the view he would win France's presidency over far-right candidate Marine Le Pen who has run on an anti-euro message.

In a poll published on Sunday, Macron was polling slightly ahead of Marine Le Pen in the first round of the elections with 26.5% to 26%, and was projected to beat Le Pen with 64% share of the votes in the second round of the elections.

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"We are in the business of real democratic renewal", Macron said of his upstart political movement En Marche.

Le Pen, among the frontrunners in the French presidential election, arrived in Chad on Tuesday and is using the two-day visit to meet French troops stationed in Chad and to outline her policies for the continent.

The rightwing François Fillon has in recent weeks gone from favourite to fighting to stay in the race after a formal judicial investigation was launched into claims that he paid his wife and children vast taxpayer-funded salaries for alleged "fake jobs" as parliamentary assistants.

Six smaller candidates were excluded from Monday's debate.

Fillon, a former prime minister, concluded the debate by saying: "I have some flaws. I know polling is valid, but under that rule, I could not have participated in the primaries [debate]".

Mr Fillon said during the debate that he was the only politician who could drive real change in France.

Of the 11 candidates in the election, only the five who are expected to be the largest vote-getters in the first round were included in the debate.

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