The French conservative party will choose its presidential candidate – .

The French conservative party will choose its presidential candidate – .

Members of France’s main conservative party choose their presidential candidate on Saturday, a move that could significantly influence the April elections.
The leader of the Paris region, Valérie Pécresse, and an uncompromising MP from Nice, Eric Ciotti, are vying for the last round of the Republican primary.

About 140,000 registered Republicans are eligible to participate in electronic voting. The result is due to 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.

Pécresse, 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 incumbent President Emmanuel Macron Macron should run for a second term but he has not yet officially declared his candidacy .

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

A supporter of the European Union, Pécresse 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 Mélenchon, is running for the presidency for the third time.


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