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Eleven candidates vie for the French presidency

April 22, 2017 at 5:46 PM EDT
On Sunday, France is set to hold a presidential election to replace outgoing socialist President François Hollande, who chose not to run for re-election. But with 11 candidates on the ballot, none is expected to win an outright majority. NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports.

MALCOLM BRABANT: Dijon is in the Burgundy wine growing region, a two hour train ride east from Paris.

But here there are reminders that even picture postcard France lives with terrorism. Strategically placed concrete blocks protect the pedestrian area from jihadis, who consider trucks as weapons of mass destruction. Fear of Islamic extremism could help Marine Le Pen. But she scares lawyer Guillaume Byk.

GUILLAUME BYK: France has to have its own place in Europe, and it’s very important for me that we still have like French playing a full role in the European Union.

MALCOLM BRABANT: But according to opinion polls, a third of all voters under the age of 25 will be opting for Marine Le Pen. Edouard Cavin campaigns for the National Front in Dijon.

EDOUARD CAVIN: I think that the young people, some of them might even have voted for François Hollande in 2012, and they were totalling deceived. These young people have had enough with the Left.

MALCOLM BRABANT: Unemployment is hovering around the 10 percent mark, and is one of the key issues in this election. Promises to help the disadvantaged are boosting the far left candidate Jean Luc Melenchon. One of his supporters is Mohamed Amin Medjkoune, who has Algerian heritage.

MOHAMED AMIN MEDJKOUNE: For us, what matters is work, employment, and training. We don’t want to be rich at all cost. We want better work access for the young people, because we can work and get rid of racism.

MALCOLM BRABANT: Christian Frescard runs an organic food shop. He’s alarmed by the rise of the extreme right and hard left. And is opting for the centrist candidate.

CHRISTIAN FRESCHARD: At the first round, I’ll vote for Macron. If I had listened to my heart, I would have most certainly voted for Mélenchon, but one has to know when the worst has to be avoided. I think he still has some good ideas, but mainly, it’s to avoid the worst.

MALCOLM BRABANT: The original frontrunner — the centre right Francois Fillon, has been dogged by financial scandals. This election has been very unpredictable.