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From far right to far left: A list of 12 candidates vying for French president

A powerful far-right leader, a deeply conservative former prime minister and a 39-year-old former investment banker are among candidates bidding to become French president this year.

world Updated: Feb 02, 2017 11:53 IST
AFP
Far-right leader and candidate for next spring presidential elections Marine le Pen, centre left, shakes hands as she visits the Entrepreneur Fair in Paris, France.
Far-right leader and candidate for next spring presidential elections Marine le Pen, centre left, shakes hands as she visits the Entrepreneur Fair in Paris, France. (AP Photo)

A powerful far-right leader, a deeply conservative former prime minister and a 39-year-old former investment banker are among candidates bidding to become French president this year.

Here is what you need to know about the contenders:

Marine Le Pen

Since becoming party leader in 2011 Marine Le Pen, an MEP, has been on a drive to purge the anti-EU, anti-immigration National Front (FN) of its jackbooted image and reposition it as a party of “patriots” from both left and right.

Tipped to do well in a crowded field in the first round in April, polls show the 48-year-old would struggle in a run-off of the top two candidates in May. French voters of all stripes have traditionally rallied behind the mainstream candidate at the final hurdle to block an FN victory.

Francois Fillon

Ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy’s former prime minister has spent nearly four decades in politics. Fillon, 62, came from behind to trounce Sarkozy and fellow former premier Alain Juppe in the primary of the conservative Republicans party, campaigning as a man of integrity who would shrink the bloated French state.

But the once solid frontrunner has seen his poll numbers plummet as investigators probe allegations he paid his wife Penelope hundreds of thousands of euros from public funds for a fake parliamentary job. Penelope and two of his children are alleged to have been paid nearly 900,000 euros ($960,000) in total to act as parliamentary aides.

Emmanuel Macron

Former French economy minister, founder and president of the political movement "En Marche !" (On the move!) and candidate for France's 2017 presidential elections Emmanuel Macron poses prior to a broadcast interview in Boulogne-Billancourt, near Paris. (AFP Photo)

The telegenic former investment banker hoping to become the youngest president in French post-war history was an advisor to current President Francois Hollande during his election campaign and later became his economy minister.

Fillon’s woes have boosted Macron’s poll numbers, putting him ahead of the former PM, in second place behind far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

A man in a hurry, the 39-year-old Macron resigned after two years as economy minister to launch his own presidential bid, despite never having held elected office. Macron, who has campaigned as a centrist europhile, has drawn large crowds at his rallies.

Benoit Hamon

French presidential election candidate for the left-wing French Socialist party Benoit Hamon (C) removes a virtual reality headset as he visits the Euromaritime fair in Paris. (AFP Photo)

The leftist rebel who quit the Socialist government in 2014 in protest over what he saw as its lurch to the right was the hands-down winner of last month’s Socialist primary.

The mild-mannered lawmaker, 49, saw off pugnacious ex-prime minister Manuel Valls but could struggle to unite Socialist moderates behind his radical programme, which includes a universal basic income and a tax on robots.

Jean-Luc Melenchon

Communist-backed firebrand Melenchon has been one of the harshest critics of Francois Hollande’s business-friendly policies.

Candidate of the far left coalition "La France insoumise" for France's 2017 presidential elections Jean-Luc Melenchon visits the Euromaritime fair in Paris. (AFP Photo)

Melenchon, 65, who came in fourth in the 2012 election behind his arch-nemesis Le Pen, wants to dump France’s presidential system for a parliamentary system and renegotiate EU treaties.

Also running

Yannick Jadot, 49: Green MEP who wants to “give ecology a friendly face”

Michele Alliot-Marie, 70: Former head of the Gaullist RPR party, forerunner of the Republicans. Held several ministerial portfolios between 2002 and 2011

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, 55: Sovereignty candidate who wants to ditch the euro

Philippe Poutou, 49: Ford factory worker standing for the New Anti-Capitalist Party

Nathalie Arthaud, 46: Economy teacher running for a Trotskyist party

Jacques Cheminade, 75: conspiracy theorist who has called in the past for a “thermo-nuclear corridor” between Earth and Mars