Macron's lead narrows in French presidential election: polls

PARIS: Centrist Emmanuel Macron's lead in France's presidential election has narrowed though he is still on course to win, two polls casting light on voter intentions following a televised debate between candidates showed.

Macron would win 25 percent of the April 23 first round vote while far right leader Marine Le Pen was seen getting 24 percent, according to a Harris Interactive poll for France Televisions published on Thursday.

Both of their scores were down a percentage point from the last time the poll was conducted on March 23, though they would still comfortably make it into the May 7 runoff.

There Macron was seen winning the presidency 62 percent to Le Pen's 38 percent, a margin that was down from 65 percent to 35 percent two weeks ago.

The poll was partly taken after Tuesday's four-hour debate, the second during the campaign, but the first to include all 11 candidates and which saw Le Pen put on the defensive from all sides.

With a second solid performance thanks to his sharp wit, hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon marked further poll gains, nearly catching up with erstwhile favourite Francois Fillon, a conservative former prime minister.

Melenchon's score climbed to 17 percent in the first round from 13.5 percent two weeks ago while Fillon, whose campaign has struggled as he faced nepotism allegations, saw his score hold steady at 18 percent.

The results in the Harris poll closely mirrored those in an Elabe poll for BFM TV published late on Wednesday and conducted in full after the debate.

That showed Macron's first round vote at 23.5 percent, his lowest score in a month and down from 25.5 percent the last time the poll was conducted on March 28-29.

Le Pen was also seen at 23.5 percent, down from 24 percent.

Elabe forecast Macron to win the runoff with 62 percent to 38 percent for Le Pen.