François Fillon and Alain Juppé, centre-right rivals, but both part of the French establishment, and both former prime ministers.
One will become the presidental candidate of France’s Republican party.
The two candidates are facing off in the second-round primaries on Sunday (November 27).
CNBC International (@CNBCi) November 25, 2016
Francois Fillon, described as a would-be Margaret Thatcher served under Nicolas Sarkozy.
The 62-year-old is a French MP and was the surprise winner in last weekend’s first-round vote.
His rival is seventy-one-year old Alain Juppé.
Convicted of corruption relating to a party funding scandal in Paris in the ’80s and ’90s while serving as the city’s deputy mayor under Jacques Chirac.
He later became prime minister in Chirac’s government.
Juppé is currently serving as the mayor of Bordeaux and opposed the recent burkini ban, calling for people to unite rather than divide, exclude or stigmatise.
Both Fillon and Juppé have similar opinions in some key areas but they differ on foreign policy, particularly relations with Moscow.
Fillon has criticised NATO members for expanding too close to Russia’s borders and called on the lifting of EU sanctions on Moscow. Fillon said Russia did not constitute a security threat.
“I consider that the politics undertaken over the past four years by Francois Hollande with regards to Russia, are absurd,” said Fillon. “These are pushing Russia to take on a harder stance, towards isolation.”
Russian relations is an issue that has drawn accusations of complacency from Juppé.
“I would tell Mr Putin, that the Minsk agreements need to be applied in good faith, to re-establish national concourse and peace in Ukraine,” said Juppé. “And, it is then, that we will lift the sanctions.”
Alain Juppé insists on the need to reform the European Union to make it “less bureaucratic.”
Fillon favours the creation of a euro zone government and reducing the power of the European Commission.
François Fillon wants to rewrite the so-called Taubira law which favours adoption by gay couples, unlike Alain Juppé, who wants to keep the law as it is.
The winner of Sunday’s Republican run off will compete in next year’s presidential election .. and is likely to make the presidential run off, where he could face leader of the far-right National Front party Marine Le Pen.