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French left-wing presidential hopefuls take part in first TV debate

French left-wing presidential hopefuls take part in first TV debate
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By Seamus Kearney
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Seven candidates have taken part in the first French left-wing TV debate ahead of a primary to choose a candidate for this year's presidential race

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Seven candidates have taken part in the first French left-wing TV debate ahead of a primary to choose a candidate for this year’s presidential race.

Ex-Prime Minister Manuel Valls has been a top favourite as candidate for the presidential ballot on April 23, enjoying a high profile.

But one flash poll after Thursday’s first televised clash indicates that former economy minister Arnaud Montebourg was considered to be the winner by a few points.

France's Montebourg marginally wins first left-wing primary debate – poll https://t.co/HrqzWmktbLpic.twitter.com/eZvUAuLQEn

— Reuters UK (@ReutersUK) January 13, 2017

But then Valls was slightly ahead in a poll of just left-wing voters, suggesting the race will be tight.

The Left is way down in the polls at this stage, behind the conservatives and the far-right.

But its choice of candidate could have an impact on the chances of the independent considered to be in third place, former economy minister Emmanuel Macron.

French Socialists spar over labour law in first presidential primary debate https://t.co/ovBaDHSUYnpic.twitter.com/YtOCMjdZtQ

— FRANCE 24 (@FRANCE24) January 13, 2017

Far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen is hoping to cause an upset and get through to the second round of the presidential vote, but she faces the prospect of being blocked by parties joining forces in the final round on May 7.

The Right in has already chosen its presidential candidate, former Prime Minister Francois Fillon.

The primary votes on the left are set for January the 22nd and 29th, with two more television debates lined up.

France's Manuel Valls is trying to mend fences with his party ahead of this month’s primary contest https://t.co/G4T8DJtBLf

— Financial Times (@FT) January 11, 2017

France: Kantar poll finds that #Montebourg win PS (S&D) presidential primary. Turnout will be decisive. Low turnout would benefit #Valls. pic.twitter.com/8MGWFiWrBb

— Europe Elects (@EuropeElects) January 8, 2017

Watch our France analyst erm3114</a> discuss the left-wing primary in France on <a href="https://twitter.com/CNBC">CNBChttps://t.co/TBrXT2UFcn

— The EIU Europe (@TheEIU_Europe) December 23, 2016

#France: HDrochon</a> explains why the outcome of the Socialist presidential primary is irrelevant to national politics <a href="https://t.co/kh1aPWei4e">https://t.co/kh1aPWei4e</a></p>&mdash; Project Syndicate (ProSyn) December 24, 2016

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