Macron favorite in French election, Le Monde poll says

For the first time in France's history, all 11 presidential hopefuls were included in a production which lasted four hours, ahead of the first round of voting on April 23.

"I'm not intimidated. I'm still here, as you can see", he added and said that the French would "make their own judgment" in the election.

Fillon has slipped to third in the polls, recording 19.5 percent in the BVA survey, suggesting he would fail to reach the run-off.

Jeanbart said Melenchon was mainly benefiting from the woes of the Socialist candidate Hamon, but to "go beyond, he'll need to broaden his appeal to a much more working-class electorate".

On the night far right leader Marine Le Pen came in for few stinging attacks: Left-winger Philippe Poutou: "The worst thing about the National Front is that it says it is anti-system, but its not so fed up with it that it won't use it when summoned by the police".

"Marine Le Pen's potent mix of old-school left-wing economics and diatribes against immigrants resonates in this part of the country - and has brought the National Front closer than ever before to taking power in France".

Far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who has the backing of the Communists, rounds out the field.

"Nationalism is war", he said.

You wouldn't know from the heavy media coverage of Marine Le Pen, but the National Front leader isn't the only radical outsider threatening the French political establishment in this month's presidential election campaign.

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Regulators and investors are unwilling to rule out any surprises following the Brexit and USA presidential votes previous year which confounded pollsters' expectations.

It was the first time ever that all 11 French presidential candidates have appeared together in a live debate.

Fillon, a 63-year-old conservative former prime minister, and his wife are being investigated over the allegations, although they deny any wrongdoing.

"I don't want this directive, even if we respect the law", she said. Several candidates openly mentioned legal cases regarding Le Pen and Fillon.

While Macron and Le Pen disagree on just about every issue, Le Pen shares certain law-and-order and immigration positions with Fillon and her views on France's welfare protections and trade often align with Melenchon's. "I thought this was a debate but it looks like the prosecutors are here", she said.

The final result of an election that is being watched closely around the world is still seen as highly unpredictable.

Asked how they want to create jobs in a country where the unemployment rate has for years hovered around 10 percent, Le Pen and Macron advocated opposite economic policies.

The other interesting thing that Oddschecker has noted, is that although Macron is the solid favourite amongst all of the bookmakers that they track, there is a lot of divergence between bookmakers on the implicit chances of Fillon and Le Pen winning.

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