In the presidential elections to be held in France in April 2022, women candidates are dominant.
The far-right Marine Le Pen, the Socialist Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, and the conservative governor of the Ile-de-France Region, which includes the capital Paris, Valerie Pecresse, are among the main rivals of the incumbent President Emmanuel Macron.
Shown as one of Macron's strongest opponents, Pecresse will become France's first female president if she wins the elections.
A recent poll by the research firm Elabe shows that Pecresse would receive 48-52 percent of the vote if the elections were held today.
Roger Karoutchi, a member of Pecresse's team and senator of the Hauts-de-Seine region of France, said that Pecresse is a reassuring figure due to her experience managing the Paris region of 12 million people.
Karoutchi said, "It is not enough to be a woman, it is necessary to be a statesman. Pecresse has served as a minister, as well as a deputy. She is very experienced in matters such as secularism and security. She is also very persistent, if she has a dream, she will work until the end."
WHO IS VALERIE PECRESSE?
Pecresse began her political career by taking part in the team of Jacques Chirac, who was president from 1995 to 2007. However, Pecresse became known as minister of education during Nicolas Sarkozy's presidency.
She likens herself to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and former German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Many, including her opponents, consider Pecresse to be quite experienced, but many voters find her too serious and ambitious, and boring as a political figure.
Philippe Dubrelle, spokesman for the French polling company IFOP, said, "I wouldn't say she was boring, but also I wouldn't say she brought a unique voice to French politics."
Dubrelle claimed that Pecresse was weak compared to Eric Zemmour, another far-right candidate, and continued:
"Emmanuel Macron came to the presidency position without any experience. Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leader of the ultra-leftist France Indomitable Movement (LFI), also has a unique style, I find that missing in Pecresse."
Roger Karoutchi, on the other hand, drew attention to a different side of Pecresse and said, "She understands the financial difficulties of families in our country very well, she knows how difficult it is to start a family and be responsible for a family."
Pecresse was selected as a candidate by members of her own political party, but she must appeal to a much wider electorate to win the election.
Republican Mayor Franck Louvrier said that Presidential candidates should be learning and growing at every stage, being open to innovations and staying true to their own principles at the same time.
Louvrier noted that Pecresse had "quite an advantage" in speaking out to people outside of her audience, thanks to his previous political experience.
CAN SHE WIN THE ELECTION?
For years, polling companies have predicted a contentious election process between Macron and Le Pen. However, some people, including Jean-Philippe Dubrulle, say that the situation changed after Eric Zemmour joined the electorate, and the votes were split on the far right.
"Everything can change if the centre-right can get 20 percent of the vote in the first phase of the election" Dubrelle said.
Although Pecresse seems popular in opinion polls, what will happen in the next 3 months is unpredictable.
5 years ago, Macron was perceived as innovative by his party and his voters, but this time it is thought that Pecresse can bring a new voice to politics.
Pecresse's candidacy marks a major shift in France's centre-right party.
WHAT POLICY WILL PECRESSE FOLLOW IF SHE WINS THE ELECTIONS?
Valerie Pecresse, the candidate of the Republican Party (LR) in the presidential election to be held in France, gave the message that "Europe's borders will be protected".
In this context, Pecresse said that their priorities are the migration policy and the revision of the Schengen agreement, and noted that she is against the Turkey's European Union membership.
Pecresse, who is shown as one of the strongest opponents of French leader Emmanuel Macron in the elections to be held in April 2022, argued that "EU enlargement must come to an end, especially for Turkey".
Pecresse, who wrote an article for the French newspaper Le Monde, said, "I believe that France should better defend its interests. I will fight for the power of Europe as well as for the power of France."
Pecresse also stated that she advocated "a Marshall Plan for Africa, especially supported by European companies".
"France must put an end to the image of arrogance that has stuck to its skin since the beginning of Macron's presidency," said Pecresse, adding that Paris "should better defend republican principles such as secularism in the face of violations of European law."
She has promised to review plans to shut down nuclear reactors. However, she noted that nuclear would not be enough and renewable resources should be strengthened. Other proposals include a carbon tax at European borders and a "European preference for public procurement".
She also called for higher wages, reform of the unemployment and pension systems, and promised to lower the public debt she.
Yannick Jadot, previously President of the Green Party (EELV) and a member of the European Parliament (AP), Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the France Indomitable Movement (LFI), leader of the far-right National Unity Party (RN), Marine Le Pen, Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo and far-right journalist and writer Eric Zemmour announced their candidacy for the presidential election.
The first round of the presidential election in the country will be held on April 10, 2022. If any of the candidates fails to obtain an absolute majority in the first round, the two candidates with the most votes will compete in the second round to be held on April 24.