France’s dueling far-right presid" />

French far-right presidential candidates fight for limelight

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France’s dueling far-right presidential candidates are holding back-to-back campaign rallies

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Zemmour, a pundit and provocateur who has been repeatedly convicted of hate speech, planned a rally in the northern city of Lille on the same day as Le Pen’s, apparently to try to draw attention away from her.

Zemmour has no political experience but is widely known for his role as a TV commentator that allowed him to spread his extreme views. His program includes banning women from wearing Muslim headscarves in public and prohibiting construction of any “imposing” mosques or minarets.

He was convicted last month of inciting racial hatred for calling underage migrants thieves, rapists and murderers. Zemmour previously was convicted of incitement to racial hatred after justifying discrimination against Black and Arab people in 2010, and of incitement to religious hatred for anti-Islam comments in 2016.

Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie also has repeated hate speech convictions, but Marine Le Pen is more cautious.

Polls suggest that Macron is favored to win a second term, but the race is close and unpredictable. At this stage, either Le Pen or Valerie Pecresse from the mainstream conservative Republicans party appear most likely to reach a runoff against Macron.

Zemmour has shaken up the race and rattled Le Pen’s camp, but lags behind her in the polls. One outstanding question is whether Le Pen’s niece, former lawmaker Marion Marechal, will throw her support to Zemmour instead.

Both Le Pen and Zemmour want tougher rules on immigration, including less state aid for migrants. Both oppose wind farms and want more support for nuclear energy. Le Pen, who used to campaign to leave the EU and the shared euro currency, now wants instead to reform those bodies from within.

The French left, meanwhile, is deeply divided, with multiple candidates vying for the presidency but none expected to have a chance of reaching the presidential runoff.

Other candidates include far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon, Greens candidate Yannick Jadot, Socialist Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, and former Justice Minister and anti-racism campaigner Christiane Taubira.

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