Polls open in first presidential primary in France

The former French Prime Minister Alain Juppe and the ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy are the current frontrunners

Polls open in first presidential primary in France

The winner will face right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen of the Front National Party.

France is taking a step closer to electing its next President today.

Voters are at the polls to select the Republican nominee, with the former French Prime Minister Alan Juppe and the ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy are the current frontrunners for the centre-right party. 

Juppe, 71, the mayor of Bordeaux who served as prime minister under Jacques Chirac in 1995, is France’s most popular politician and has for months been the favourite. He has led a centrist campaign pledging pro-business reform but also promoting social harmony against hard-right identity politics, vowing: “I won’t turn people in France against each other”.

Picture by Michel Spingler AP/Press Association Images

Sarkozy’s bid for a political comeback is seen as his last chance in French politics. He has led a hardline campaign on identity politics, targeting Muslims and minorities, denying climate change and unashamedly veering into Le Pen’s far-right territory.

Picture by Laurent Cipriani AP/Press Association Images

Former Prime Minister François Fillon is also contesting the election. He has gained in the polls in recent days to become a serious challenger. A devoted admirer of Margaret Thatcher, Fillon has the boldest project for economic reform – vowing to cut 500,000 public sector jobs in the next five years.

Picture by Thibault Camus AP/Press Association Images

The winner will face right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen of the Front National Party.

Polls have consistently shown that Le Pen will make it to the French presidential final-round run-off next May, but that it would be difficult for her to win.

Le Pen is calling for the collapse of the EU and an end to immigration, having previously said France is under "Islamic assault".