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The 5 hopefuls seeking to lead French right-wing party in upcoming vote

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PARIS (AFP) — France’s traditional right-wing party The Republicans (LR) on Wednesday will open a congress aimed at choosing among five hopefuls to find its candidate to take on French President Emmanuel Macron in elections next year.

The winner, to be announced Saturday, will be crucial to the overall dynamic of the election and to whether the party of ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy can threaten the centrist president, who is widely expected to seek re-election.

The candidacy of far-right pundit Eric Zemmour, who declared Tuesday, also provides a new factor.

With the outcome still wide open ahead of their final televised debate Tuesday, AFP looks at the five hopefuls:

Michel Barnier

Barnier, 70, is by far the best-known candidate outside France due to his role as the European Union’s chief negotiator on Brexit, a mission admirers believe he carried out with tact and aplomb.

He was seen in the early stages of the race as a favorite for the Republican nomination, but a somewhat leaden performance in TV debates has led some pundits to mark down the chances of the oldest candidate in the race.

In the campaign, Barnier has surprised some of his admirers in the EU by staking out ground to the right, calling for an “electric shock” on security, a moratorium on immigration and the........

© The Times of Israel

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