Mammoth debate in French election campaign

The five main contenders in the French presidential election exchanged blows on Monday night in the first of three televised debates. François Fillon, Emmanuel Macron, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Marine Le Pen and Benoît Hamon presented their views on economic, foreign and social policy in the three and a half hour programme. What impression did the candidates make on the press?

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L'Opinion (FR) /

Debate reflects political disasters

L'Opinion explains how it is that the French election campaign could come to be dominated by such disastrous plans as the basic income, Jean-Luc Mélenchon's 100-billion-euro investment programme and Marine Le Pen's exit from the Eurozone:

“During this first major election debate, three of the five key candidates have spoken out in favour of solutions that can only harm the country. ... But who is to blame for this? All those who have governed the country for the past twenty years and have shied away from implementing long-term reforms. ... All those who wooed voters only to cheat them once they were in office. All those who got themselves elected by promising that France, in its grandeur, can be different. Yes, it is different, in its pitiful performance.”

Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

Macron's trumps are also his weaknesses

The fight isn't over yet, Corriere del Ticino believes, highlighting two potential obstacles to Macron's seemingly unstoppable rise:

“Macron has two trumps that could bring him victory, but also defeat. The first is his youth (he's not yet 40) in a country like France, which has until now favoured mature candidates for the office of president. ... The second is his political positioning. As a pure centrist he is unconditionally committed to the centre of the political spectrum. However the ease with which he countered his opponents in the televised debate contrasted with the difficulties he had in explaining his own political project. According to some observers, the former economy minister under Hollande seems to be a prisoner of his own centrist position. Neither on the right nor on the left, he draws sometimes from the one side and sometimes from the other, conveying the impression that he lacks a firm position.”