Emmanuel Macron seen as winning first televised presidential debate

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Voters rated Macron as the strongest performer of the five leading candidates who took part in the first debate of the presidential election campaign on Monday night, watched by almost 10 million viewers, according to snap opinion polls.

"The euro has been helped by Macron's performance, definitely", said Stephen Gallo, head of European FX strategy at Bank of Montreal in London.

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 leader of Front National clashed with fellow presidential candidates on jobs, terrorism and France's place in Europe just weeks before the election.

The debate covered a wide assortment of issues, like education, security, unemployment, ecology, work guarantees, the defense and institutional reforms, which allowed politicians to put forward their proposals, in a discussion where presenting their projects was the most important issue. 'When I have something to say, I say it clearly'.

Conservative candidate Fillon, whose campaign has been mired in a corruption scandal involving an allegedly fictitious political job he gave to his wife, championed quotas on newcomers that "do not affect asylum seekers, but other immigration".

A total of 11 candidates, spanning the spectrum from the Trotskyist left to the far right, are running for president.

Opinion polls on voting intentions suggest Macron is likely to come second behind Le Pen in April's first round of voting and is favoured to beat her in the decisive run-off vote on May 7. Le Pen stated, when speaking upon this issue, "First we should take back control of our borders".

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If May didn't already have a headache over the Scottish "issue", she'll certainly have a whopper of one after Robertson's speech. The only other way the reserved matters in the Scotland Act can be amended would be through an Act of the UK Parliament.

Ms Le Pen called for an end to multiculturalism but Mr Macron accused her of making enemies of Muslim people living in France.

It welcomed the focus on policy after a campaign so far overshadowed by Fillon's expenses woes and Le Pen's refusal to meet investigating magistrates over claims she misused European Parliament allowances.

Macron, a former investment banker, vowed during a visit to Berlin last week to reform the French economy if elected to restore trust with Germany and move Europe forward. "It was used before Brexit", said Le Pen, who has pledged a similar referendum on France's European Union membership, 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.

The timing of the debate, a month before French voters head to polls for the first round of the elections, provided candidates with a ideal opportunity to swing public sentiment in their favor.

For much of the debate, Fillon stood back, attempting to look reserved and presidential.

As the programme started, candidates noted the "undemocratic" absence of the six other candidates, who had not been invited to the debate by TF1 producers.

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