Macron emerges as French presidential frontrunner

STORY: Although Le Pen came across as more polished and composed than in a TV duel for the presidency in 2017, Macron went on the offensive over her ties to Russian leadership, her plans for the economy and her policy for the European Union.

With the deciding vote just four days away, some 59% of viewers found Macron to have been the most convincing in the debate, according to a snap poll for BFM TV.

That suggested the almost three-hour showdown would not alter the course of the election, with Macron ahead in all previous polls.

Lead researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research Isabelle Veyrat-Masson said Macron was more feisty and that Le Pen had been less aggressive than five years ago.

Voters said the debate had helped clarify issues, whereas others dismissed it as boring.

Voter surveys have shown a widening of Macron's lead over Le Pen to as much as 56%-44% since the first round on April 10, and analysts said the debate was unlikely to swing voting intentions in Le Pen's favor.

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