French election: 5 top candidates to hold first debate
Socialist candidate for the presidential election Benoit Hamon waves to supporters after his speech during a meeting in Paris, Sunday, March 19, 2017. Hamon held a boisterous rally Sunday that packed out an indoor sports and concert arena in Paris with at least 20,000 people. Since he won the Socialist primary in January, the 49-year-old former minister has struggled to carve out a space for himself in the campaign and failed to unite the party behind him. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
PARIS — The five leading candidates for France’s presidential election are holding their first debate Monday, with centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen leading polls, and jobs and security among voters’ top concerns.
The televised evening debate comes after France was shaken by a weekend attack on soldiers at Paris’ Orly airport, a reminder of security challenges the new president will face.
The list of 11 candidates was finalized Saturday. The first-round vote is set for April 23, the top two candidates go to a runoff May 7.
Macron and Le Pen will be joined at the debate by conservative Francois Fillon, Socialist Benoit Hamon and far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon. The five are expected to be the largest vote-getters in the first round.