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French conservatives compete in first round of presidential primary

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Polls opened early Sunday as French conservatives and centrists compete in a nationwide primary to be the nominee for the 2017 presidential election. The vote follows a campaign dominated by the flagging economy, immigration and Islamist extremism.

Seven candidates are competing in the first round of the primary. A run-off will be held between the top two candidates the following Sunday.

Former president Nicolas Sarkozy and former prime ministers Francois Fillon and Alain Juppé are all vying for victory in the first round, while keeping a close eye on far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, whose criticism of France's immigration policies and Islamist extremism resonates with many voters.


It is the first such primary organised by France’s conservatives, making the outcome hard to predict. Candidates were previously designated internally by the party.

Results from the first round of voting are expected late on Sunday.

The seven candidates held their third and last debate on Thursday night, all pledging to increase security and France’s military might, but clashing on how to fix Europe and how to deal with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

With the candidates largely agreeing on the main issues, the vote is likely to come down to nuances in their programmes and their political records.

The winner of the right-wing primary is likely to become the president when France holds elections in April-May 2017, according to opinion polls.

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Muslim Global: French conservatives compete in first round of presidential primary
French conservatives compete in first round of presidential primary
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