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>> It was supposed to be a straightforward race. France's former Prime Minister Alain Juppé appeared firmly on track to become the conservative presidential candidate. But he lost his lead when another former premier had a last minute surge. Juppé is now neck and neck with François Fillion, as well as former President Nicolas Sarkozy, a contest of establishment figures.
French voters are deciding on Sunday which of the three will go up against Marine Le Pen, the National Front's Euro-skeptic anti-immigration leader. She's been rising in popularity against a backdrop of militant attacks and the migrant crisis. Under the deeply unpopular president François Hollande, the Left-wing Socialist party is in disarray, so pollsters predict May's election will be a battle of center-right versus far-right.
Sarkozy has starred himself as the voice of France's silent majority, vowing to ban the Muslim veil from public universities and renegotiate EU treaties. The more moderate Juppé has rejected Sarkozy's identity politics, accusing him of deepening rifts. Fillion has proposed a shakeup of the economy, promising high levels of cost-cutting, policies which could resonate with Right-wing voters concerned about economic stagnation.
There are other uncertainties surrounding the vote. It's the first time the Center-Right party has held a primary. Anyone who pays €2 and signs the allegiance can take part, exposing the system to tactical voting by non-supporters.