France’s conservative party to choose presidential candidate

PARIS – Members of France’s main conservative party are picking their presidential candidate Saturday, a decision that could significantly shape April’s election. The head the Paris region, Valérie Pécresse, and a hardline lawmaker from Nice, Eric Ciotti, are competing in the final round of The Republicans’ primary. About 140,000 registered members of The Republicans are eligible to participate in the electronic voting. The result is to be announced later Saturday.

Immigration and security emerged as top issues in the party primary largely because of another presidential candidate, far-right former TV pundit Eric Zemmour. Zemmour, an author and former journalist with multiple hate-speech convictions, formally declared his candidacy this week in a video relaying anti-migrant, anti-Islam imagery. Pécresse, 54, is a former minister and government spokesperson under conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy from 2007 to 2012.

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