France’s five main contenders for the upcoming presidential election clashed Monday night in the first presidential TV debates ahead of the vote, an event watched by 9.8 million people.
The French presidential election this year is unfolding unlike any other in history, and the first debates were no exception. Only five frontrunners from the total 11 candidates, who will partake in the election, were invited for the show. The other six candidates were excluded on the basis that they did not poll highly enough.
The Republicans party candidate Francois Fillon, National Front party leader Marine Le Pen, independent Emmanuel Macron, Socialist Party nominee Benoit Hamon and the leader of the left-wing political movement La France Insoumise (Unsubmissive France), Jean-Luc Melenchon, stressed that non-participation of the other candidates raised questions of democracy.
“I think the opinion polls are very interesting for commentators but under this rule, I would not have been able to participate in the primaries of the right and the center,” Fillon, who emerged as a leader of The Republicans Party primaries after a polished performance in the TV debates in November, said opening the debates.