>> First blood to a firebrand socialist in the hunt to be France's left-wing presidential hope. Thursday night's debate raising the prospect of a tight race for the nomination. A flash survey giving former Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg a marginal win. Montebourg, who wants to levy a super tax on banks to raise 5 billion euros, appearing at ease over the dour but courteous two and a half hour debate
Defending Francois Hollande's five years, saying he was proud of what had been achieved. The winner of the primary has at this stage little prospect of topping the April-May presidential vote. Leading candidates conservative, François Fillon, far-right National Front leader, Marine Le Pen, and independent former Economy Minister, Emmanuel Macron, all well ahead.
Two more televised debates will follow before the first round of primaries scheduled for January 22nd.>>