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France Presidential election 2017 Debate

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Who will shine in tonight's second presidential debate?

A combination picture shows the eleven candidates who will take part in a prime-time televised debate on April 4, 2017 as part of the French 2017 presidential election campaign. REUTERS

Going by his strong performance in the first round, Jean-Luc Mélenchon is expected to be one of the stars of Tuesday’s second presidential debate that will feature all 11 contenders.

The 65-year-old’s graph has been on the ascent since the March 20 debate in which the Communist-backed candidate outshone the other four principal contenders.

The first round debate made him the favourite among the Left voters, ahead of the Socialist Party candidate Benoit Hamon.

According to a poll published in the Journal de Dimanche, 44 per cent of the respondents believe Mélenchon best embodies the ideas of the Left.

In an interview with the same weekly, Mélenchon contended that the nature of his candidacy had changed after the first debate.

Melenchon has now overtaken Hamon in the latest poll ratings that place him at 15 per cent ahead of Hamon who has slipped into single figures.

Despite the recent upswing, Mélenchon still faces a formidable challenge to make it to the second round. He trails in fourth place behind 'fake jobs' scandal-hit François Fillon who stands at 17 per cent. The two leading candidates Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron are on 25 and 24 per cent respectively.

Tuesday’s debate would also put Macron under the spotlight.

The 39-year-old has been dubbed by Fillon as “Emmanuel Hollande”, with the Les Republicains candidate claiming Macron and his former mentor President François Hollande are cut from the same Socialist cloth.

In an attempt to dismiss this perception, Macron told Le Monde on Monday that unlike Hollande, he would not strive to be a “normal president”.

“I don't claim (to want) to be a normal president. I will be a president who leads.” He said said his methods would be “radically different” from those of Hollande, promising quick reforms and “clarity.”

Meanwhile, François de Rugy of the Ecologistes party, who is supporting Macron, said Tuesday’s debate won’t be decisive.

“I think that the second round, face-to-face debate will be decisive.”

Other than the five top contenders, the other candidates who will feature in Tuesday's debate are Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, Philippe Poutou, Nathalie Arthaud, Jean Lassalle, Jacques Cheminade and François Asselineau.