Maverick candidate attacks Le Pen and Fillon in televised debate, as Macron continues to lead in the polls and the betting. Max Liu reports on the latest news from the French election...
Philippe Poutou, a Ford factory-worker who's [1000.00] to be France's next president, was the star of the latest TV debate after he tore into Marine Le Pen and Francois Fillon over their financial affairs. The debate lasted an epic four hours and involved all 11 presidential candidates but, by the end, it was Poutou who had stolen the headlines with his attacks on the National Front and Republic party candidates.
Presidential favourite Emmanuel Macron [1.74], who's standing for the newly-formed En Marche party, gave another assured performance and emerged unscathed from the debate. The former-finance minister has been boosted in the past week by winning the backing of, among others, Prime Minister Manuel Valls as the French political establishment unites around the candidate they believe has the best chance of stopping Le Pen. She's second favourite, at [4.4], followed by Fillon [5.9].
Fillon's campaign has been dogged by controversy for months, after it was announced that he's being investigated for misappropriation of public funds. His odds drifted into double figures amid calls for him to stand down. However, as reported, Fillon's odds narrowed ahead of the second debate.
Since then he's drifted back out to [5.9], so did Poutou succeeded in damaging the Republican? Certainly Fillon didn't enjoy being criticised by the anti-capitalist candidate; at one point during the debate, Fillon was heard saying to Poutou words to the affect of "I'll f***ing sue you." British politics, with its "I agree with Nick" TV debating style, looks comparatively pretty tame.
With only two weeks to go until France votes in the first round of two, Macron is the candidate to beat. The night after the debate, he was subjected to a two-and-a-half hour live TV interview, in which he struck a presidential tone and tackled foreign policy, calling for military intervention against the Assad regime if the Syrian government were found to have carried out a suspected chemical attack.
Most polls show Macron and Le Pen winning around a quarter of the vote each on April 23, although bettors think Le Pen [1.64] will defeat Macron [2.82] in the first round. Two weeks later, however, Macron is expected to triumph as voters who supported other candidates in round one rally around him.