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The French conservative party will choose its presidential candidate

PARIS (AP) Members of France’s main conservative party select their presidential candidate on Saturday, a move that could significantly influence the April elections.

The boss of the Paris region, Valrie Pcresse, and an intransigent member of Nice, Eric Ciotti, play the last round of the primary of the Republicans.

About 140,000 registered Republicans are eligible to participate in electronic voting. The result will be announced later on Saturday.

Immigration and security have emerged as priority issues in party primaries, in large part because of another presidential candidate, former far-right television pundit Eric Zemmour. Zemmour, author and former journalist with multiple convictions for hate speech, officially declared his candidacy this week in a video relaying anti-migrant and anti-Islam images.

Presse, 54, is a former minister and spokesperson for the government of conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy from 2007 to 2012.

If she is elected by party members and later by French voters, she has vowed to break with the centrist policies of outgoing President Emmanuel Macron. Macron is expected to run for a second term but has yet to officially declare his candidacy.

Presse said her first action as president would be to end the 35-hour workweek in France so employees can work and earn more. She also promoted a tough stance on immigration, saying people who entered the country illegally should be deported.

A supporter of the European Union, Pcresse left Les Républicains in 2019 amid leadership divisions after the party suffered a poor performance in the European elections. She joined the party this year to be able to participate in the primary.

Ciotti, 56, is known for his long-standing positions on the right wing of the party, including on security, immigration and religion.

He wants words about France’s Christian roots to be added to the constitution and for Muslim girls to be banned from wearing the veil.

Ciotti is committed to massively reducing immigration and wants to change the law that grants nationality to people born in France. Rather, it proposes nationality by descent, or the right of blood.

He also wants to establish a French Guantanamo to imprison people convicted of terrorism-related charges.

Zemmour and the other well-known far-right candidate, National Rally leader Marine Le Pen, expressed similar views.

The Republicans, who still lead several regional assemblies and hold a majority in the French Senate, is the last of France’s traditional parties to choose its presidential candidate.

On the left, the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo is running for the Socialist Party, and the Greens have chosen the MEP Yannick Jadot, a former Greenpeace activist. The far left leader of the Rebel France party, Jean-Luc Mlenchon, is running for the presidency for the third time.

(Edited by : Thomas abraham)

First publication: STI


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