France’s conservative party chooses presidential candidate


Members of France’s main conservative party will choose their presidential candidate on Saturday, a decision that could dramatically shape April’s elections.

Leader Paris region, Valérie Pécresse, and a hardline lawmaker from Nice, Eric Ciotti, are competing in the final round of the Republican primaries.

Approximately 140,000 registered members of The Republican Party member eligible to participate in electronic voting. Results will be announced late Saturday.

Immigration and security emerged as top issues in the party’s primaries largely due to another presidential candidate, former far-right television pundit Eric Zemmour. Zemmour, an author and former journalist with multiple convictions for hate speech, officially announced her candidacy this week in an anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim video.

Pécresse, 54, was a former minister and government spokesman under conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy from 2007 to 2012.

If elected by party members and then French voters, she vowed to “break” with the central policies of the incumbent president. Emmanuel Macron Macron is expected to seek a second term but he has yet to officially announce his candidacy.

Pécresse says her first act as president will be over France s 35 hours a work week for employees to work and earn more money. She has also pushed for a hardline stance on immigration, saying that people who enter the country illegally should be deported.

A supporter of the European Union, Pécresse left the Republican Party in 2019 amid a leadership split after the party performed poorly in EU elections. She joined the party again this year so she could attend the primary session.

Ciotti, 56, is known for his long-standing positions in the party’s right wing, particularly on security, immigration and religion.

He wants the wording of France’s Christian roots to be added to the Constitution and a ban on Muslim girls wearing the veil.

Ciotti has vowed to reduce mass immigration and wants to change the law that grants citizenship to those born on French territory. Instead, he proposes nationality by descent, or “blood right”.

He also wants to create a “French Guantanamo” to detain people convicted of terrorism-related crimes.

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

The Republican Party, which still heads several regional councils and holds a majority in the French Senate, is the last of the traditional French parties to choose its presidential candidate.

On the left, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo is running for the Socialist party, and the Greens have chosen European lawmaker Yannick Jadot, a former Greenpeace activist. The far-left leader of the French Rebel party, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, is seeking the presidency for a third time. France’s conservative party chooses presidential candidate


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