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  Newsmakers   02 Feb 2017  From far right to far left: 12 candidates for French president

From far right to far left: 12 candidates for French president

AFP
Published : Feb 2, 2017, 10:14 am IST
Updated : Feb 2, 2017, 10:32 am IST

A powerful far-right leader, a deeply conservative former Prime Minister and a 39-year-old former investment banker are among candidates.

 Marine Le Pen, Communist-backed firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon and Former Prime Minister Francois Fillon. (Photo: AP)
  Marine Le Pen, Communist-backed firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon and Former Prime Minister Francois Fillon. (Photo: AP)

Paris: 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

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

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.

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

- Bastien Faudot, 38: leftist sovereignty candidate

Tags: french presidential elections, france, president
Location: France, Île-de-France, Paris