French presidential candidates at a glance
Twelve candidates are to stand in the first round of the French presidential election to be held on April 22. Here are brief profiles of the contenders and their platforms:
THE BIG FOUR:
, 52. The interior minister and candidate of the governing rightwing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party is advocating a "clean break" with the politics of the past. A plain-talking politician who says he is "results-driven," Sarkozy is calling for loosening up labour laws and cutting taxes. The son of a Hungarian immigrant and a French mother of Greek Jewish origin has stirred controversy over his proposal to create an immigration and national identity ministry.
, 53. The candidate of the main opposition Socialist Party wants to become France's first woman president. A mother of four who served as an adviser to late president Francois Mitterrand, Royal says France is in the throes of a "crisis of democracy" and in need of "profound change." Her 100-point presidential programme calls for increasing the minimum wage, raising small pensions and providing interest-free
loans for students.
Francois Bayrou, 55. The leader of the small Union for French Democracy is promising to breach the left-right divide and govern from the centre with a coalition. A teacher who takes pride in his rural roots, Bayrou is proposing a constitutional ban on budget deficits and cuts to social charges to encourage job creation.
Jean-Marie Le Pen
Jean-Marie Le Pen
, 78. The leader of the far-right National Front stunned the nation when he qualified for the run-off against Jacques Chirac in the 2002 election. His anti-immigrant, anti-Europe platform calls for cutting off social benefits for foreigners and halting European integration, although he would retain the euro.
Olivier Besancenot, 32. A postman running for the Revolutionary Communist League for the second time, Besancenot wants to make job firings illegal as part of a series of proposals to bolster workers' rights.
, 53. The anti-globalisation crusader became popular after he attacked a McDonald's outlet in 1999 as part of his campaign against "la malbouffe" or bad food. Making his first bid for the presidency, the sheep farmer is calling for an "electoral uprising against economic liberalism" and casts himself as a "spokesman for those who have no voice."
, 57. The Communist Party candidate is making her first bid at the presidency with a platform that calls for increased wages, building 600,000 new social housing units and scrapping the ceiling on taxation that benefits the wealthy.
Arlette Laguiller, 66. Six-time candidate for the Trotskyist Workers' Struggle (Lutte
Ouvriere), the former typist is advocating an anti-capitalism platform that would ban profit-making companies from firing staff.
Gerard Schivardi, 56. A builder and mayor of the southern town of Mailhac, Schivardi is the candidate of the far-left Workers' Party. He calls for the defence of public services in rural areas and wants France to pull out of the European Union.
, 48. The Green Party candidate and former environment minister has pieced together an "ecology contract" that calls for reducing France's dependency on nuclear power, banning dangerous pesticides and fertilizers and opposing genetically modified crops. A senator, she is making her second bid for the presidency.
Phillippe de Villiers
Philippe de Villiers, 58, leads the nationalist Movement for France party. Born Viscount Phillippe Le Jolis de Villiers de Saintignon, the Eurosceptic politician last year released a book warning of the "Islamization" of France.
Frederic Nihous, 39. The candidate of the Hunting, Fishing, Nature and Traditions party is committed to defending the rural way of life. A lawyer, he won less than 5 percent of the vote in the 2002 election.
Subject: French news, French presidential candidates at a glance