The Latest: French hopefuls show no common ground pre-debate

The Latest on France's presidential election (all times local):

8:30 p.m.

Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen and untested centrist Emmanuel Macron have arrived at a television studio outside Paris ahead of a high-stakes debate and shown there is unlikely to be any common ground in their verbal showdown.

Their one-on-one debate on Wednesday is scheduled to be the only direct confrontation between the candidates ahead of Sunday's runoff election for the presidency.

Between the anti-EU Le Pen and pro-European Macron, the two offer polar-opposite platforms.

Le Pen said upon her arrival at the studio that she hopes the debate will help the millions of undecided French make up their minds between "continuity or change that I represent."

Macron says he wants to show that Le Pen's platform "cannot respond to the challenges of the country."


11:55 a.m.

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen are preparing for their one-on-one televised French presidential election debate, with much at stake for both contenders.

They are expected to square off for more than two hours Wednesday in their final showdown before Sunday's runoff vote.

The latest opinion polls show the pro-EU Macron holding a strong lead over his far-right rival Le Pen.

Macron, who has been criticized for his early celebrations after he finished nearly three points ahead of Le Pen in the first-round vote April 23, needs to convince leftist voters that his pro-business and liberal stance should not deter them from supporting him. Le Pen is expected to hammer home her favorite themes of security and identity.