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Valerie Pecresse and Eric Ciotti vie for French right-wing presidential nomination

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Two candidates emerged from the first round of voting as France’s main right-wing “Les Républicains” party picks its presidential candidate.

Eric Ciotti, an MP from Nice, and Valérie Pécresse, president of the Ile-de-France region, will vie for the party’s nomination on Saturday, party president Christian Jacob announced.

Around 113,000 party members voted in the presidential congress that saw five candidates compete for the nomination.

Eric Ciotti, who was the most right-wing of all the candidates, received the most votes in the first round, with 25.59%.

Ciotti has said that in a race between incumbent President Emmanuel Macron and far-right tv pundit Eric Zemmour, Ciotti would vote for Zemmour. He believes there is a “war of civilisations” that threatens “Jewish-Christian” civilisation.

Valérie Pécresse came in as a close second with 25% of the vote.

She, like the other candidates, had taken a tough stance on immigration, calling to end “automatic naturalisation” at 18 and to issue quotas for countries. She would also like to reduce public spending and government bureaucracy.

Xavier Bertrand, another candidate in the primary, immediately said on social media that he would vote for Pécresse in the second round. First-round candidate Philippe Juvin also called on members to vote for Pécresse.

The party had opted for a closed party congress instead of an open political primary.

“Les Républicains” trace their political origins back to Charles de Gaulle, and previous incarnations of the party counted the likes of Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy among France’s presidents. But they have struggled to recast their identity since a collapse in their vote at the 2017 election.

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