French presidential favorites head for debate showdown


PARIS: France’s ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy and former prime minister Alain Juppe will come face to face on Thursday for a televised debate ahead of a November primary widely seen as the main battle for the presidency.

The stakes could not be higher, as pollsters say whoever wins the nomination for the center-right Republicans party on November 27 is likely to take on — and defeat — far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the 2017 presidential election.

Sarkozy who is waging an uphill fight for a return to the office he held during 2007-12 lags far behind his rival in voter surveys. Polls show Juppe with a lead of between eight and 14 percentage points over Sarkozy for the first round of the primary on November 20, with five other candidates trailing behind.

All seven will take part in the debate on Thursday, the first of four, including one on November 24, three days before the run-off for the nomination.



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