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Macron's lead narrows in French presidential election, polls show

It featured all 11 candidates in the race.

Marine Le Pen of French National Front (FN) attends a prime-time televised debate for the candidates at French 2017 presidential election in La Plaine Saint-Denis, near Paris, France, April 4, 2017.

But lesser-known rivals stood out in the debate - notably far left candidates Jean-Luc Melenchon and Philippe Poutou, with their rhetoric for the working classes and jabs at the frontrunners.

Ms Le Pen, leader of the National Front (FN) party, promised to restore control of France's borders and scrap the euro, or else hold a referendum on European Union membership.

She says her priority would be to cut taxes on French small and middle-size business.

Campaigning with a protectionist platform, Le Pen pledged a move away from free trade zones and the euro to restore French national sovereignty via a return to local currency and internal borders.

"Without a clever protectionism, we are going to watch jobs being destroyed one after another", she said. Investigators suspect Le Pen used personnel and resources paid for by the regional administration to prepare her 2012 presidential campaign, according to the newspaper.

"At the end of the six months, it will be the French people who decide", she said, adding that this would allow France to see the outcome of elections in Germany and Italy too.

Elabe forecast Macron to win the runoff with 62 percent to 38 percent for Le Pen.

Jean Lassalle, speaking in the thick accent of the southwest, said he proposed a "future based on hope" in contrast to high suicide rates in the suburbs of main cities, as well as in rural communities - "that's the reality". He said he could not prove this.

"'Make France Great Again' is not necessarily all good news for Trump and the folks in the White House", Keylor told the Herald.

The televised debate among the 11 candidates heated up Tuesday night when they discussed the "moralization" of French politics.

However, this scenario does not take into consideration external influences that might affect the outcome of the elections, in particular the risk of Russian interference, which could release compromising information to bring down Macron after he will emerge as the challenger of Le Pen in the first round of voting.

Le Pen, like Fillon, has denied any wrongdoing.

When questioned about legal problems surrounding her National Front party including campaign financing and the use of expenses at the European parliament, she said she considered herself to be "politically persecuted".

Conservative candidate Francois Fillon, battered by allegations that he gave his wife and two children government-funded jobs they never performed, is struggling to survive in the race.

"I believe that Germany will not be deaf to that demand", he said.

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