March 19, 2007 / 6:02 PM / 13 years ago

FACTBOX - Candidates running for French election

(Reuters) - France’s Constitutional Council said on Monday 12 candidates had qualified to stand in next month’s presidential election.

Below is the list of the 12 candidates who managed to secure the necessary 500 signatures from elected officials around France needed to validate their bid.

NICOLAS SARKOZY: 52. Interior minister and head of the ruling UMP party, Sarkozy is tough on illegal immigration, pro-American and favours both interventionist and free-market economic policies. He is leading the opinion polls.

SEGOLENE ROYAL: 53. Royal hopes to become France’s first woman president, but foreign policy gaffes have hurt her and she has struggled to rally all the Socialist party to her side. She has a 100-point programme that critics say is extremely costly.

FRANCOIS BAYROU: 55. A pro-European centrist, Bayrou has surged in the polls as voters register their discontent with the two main blocs and back his vision of a coalition government tasked with cutting debt levels. He is third in the polls.

JEAN-MARIE LE PEN: 78. The far-right veteran stunned France in 2002 by reaching the run off. This is his fifth bid for the presidency and he is convinced he’ll repeat his 2002 shock, but is becalmed in the polls, well adrift of the three frontrunners.

MARIE-GEORGE BUFFET: 57. A former minister of youth affairs, Buffet is head of the Communist Party, much weakened since the end of the Cold War. She has barely registered in the polls.

ARLETTE LAGUILLER: 67. Laguiller is a Trotskyist who first ran in 1974. She helped sink Socialist Lionel Jospin in 2002 by gaining 5.7 pct of vote but is struggling to make headway now.

OLIVIER BESANCENOT: 32. Head of France’s second major Trotskyite party, Besancenot, known as the “little red postman”, after his day job, won 4.25 pct in 2002.

DOMINIQUE VOYNET: 48. A former environment leader who is struggling to hold her fractious Greens party together.

JOSE BOVE: 53. A farmer activist and anti-globalisation militant, who is struggling to whip up voter support.

PHILIPPE DE VILLIERS: 57. Aristocratic father of seven who heads the far-right Movement for France party.

FREDERIC NIHOUS: 39. Head of the Hunting, Fishing, Nature and Traditions party.

GERARD SCHIVARDI - A little-known leftist, anti-EU mayor.

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