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The candidates seeking to unseat France’s Macron

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen walks through the corridor following a meeting of Europe’s far-right leaders, in Warsaw, Poland December 4, 2021. — Reuters pic

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PARIS, Dec 4 — With the selection today of Paris region chief Valerie Pecresse as the candidate for France’s right-wing The Republicans (LR), the main contenders vying to challenge Emmanuel Macron for the presidency in the 2022 election are now clear.

Macron, in power since 2017, has not officially declared his candidacy for a second term but few doubt that he will.

Here are the most prominent figures in the election race, whose first round is scheduled for April 10, 2022.

Far Right

Marine Le Pen

She has already thrown her hat in the ring for another go at the presidency after making it to the run-off second round in 2017, where she was trounced by Macron.

Macron appears to have highlighted Le Pen as his main rival, shifting his own policies to the right in a bid to outflank her. But the party has fared badly in local elections and some in the party have raised questions over her leadership.

Eric Zemmour

The TV pundit has won a major following for his diatribes against migration and the Muslim headscarf and finally declared he would stand this week, ending months of speculation.

Zemmour enjoyed a major surge in the last weeks and some polls have even projected him making the second round ahead of Le Pen. However there have been tentative signs this initial surge is beginning to slip.

Right

Valerie Pecresse

The head of the Ile-de-France region that includes Paris won the primary of the right-wing LR today, becoming its first ever female candidate in a presidential election.

She says she wants to “restore French pride” but with no poll projecting her even making a run-off vote against Macron, Pecresse now faces weeks of intense campaigning to prove she is a credible force.

Left

Anne Hidalgo

The Socialist Party has been floundering since the one-term (2012-2017) presidency of Francois Hollande, who ended up so unpopular he did not even seek a second mandate.

Some believe Paris mayor Hidalgo could be its saviour, but after declaring her candidacy she has yet to get out of single figures in the polls and faces a struggle to gain national support.

Yannick Jadot

Former Greenpeace campaigner Jadot won the Green party nomination in September in a contest against the self-styled eco-feminist Sandrine Rousseau. He faces the task of transferring the dazzling success the Greens enjoyed in 2020 local elections to the national level but has so far failed to make an impact.

Far Left

Jean-Luc Melenchon

The leader of the far-left France Unbowed party was fast into the starting blocks, declaring his candidacy months ago. But he will probably struggle to match his effort from the 2017 edition where he was a major factor in the campaign and polled almost 20 percent in the first round.

Arnaud Montebourg

The former minister entered the fray in September, vowing a “remontada” (rebound) for France. Seen as to the left of Hidalgo but more moderate than Melenchon, he ran in left-wing presidential primaries in 2011 and 2017 but failed to win a nomination.

Fabien Roussel

The candidate of France’s Communist Party, far from the force it was in previous decades, has so far resisted calls to bow out of the race in favour of a single left-wing candidate. Polls give him 2-3 percent of the vote. — AFP

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