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>> No knock out blows but Centrist Emmanuel Macron might have landed the biggest hits of France's presidential debate. The former economy minister faring best in a snap opinion poll taken shortly after. On the back of that, one junior minister breaking ranks to come out in support of his campaign.
Reuters political reporter in Paris, Elizabeth Pinot, says more are expected to follow suit. Shunning their own socialist candidate in favor of the independent.>> We were expecting some big ministers like Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to do so. He could do that at the end of the week.
The thing is, the president, Francois Hollande and Prime Minister
] asked government not to say anything. Not to take part of the campaign until the end of the week.>> Macron's performance Monday might prove a turning point Over the three and a half hours, the five presidential candidates clashed.
The independent and his main rival, far right leader Marine Le Pen holding some of the more feisty exchanges. All eyes were on whether the young and inexperienced Macron could hold his own.>> He made no mistake, and that's what he had to do. Because everybody was expecting him to make a mistake in some way because he's never been elected, he's 39 only.
39 years old and the others were ready to attack him.>>
> Firebrand leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon also had a good night according to a snap survey by posters. Former front runner François Fillon didn't mount a major comeback. The candidate desperately in need of a bounce, amidst a campaign played by scandal.
Two more debates will follow before the first round of voting in late April. Only two candidates will go through with Macron currently tipped to easily beat Le Pen. But their standings are far from set in stone. 40% of French voters reportedly still don't know who to back.