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EU election: French right-wing party launches its campaign

Francois-Xavier Bellamy, Republican Party (LR) candidate for the European elections
Francois-Xavier Bellamy, Republican Party (LR) candidate for the European elections Copyright Stephane de Sakutin/Copyright 2019 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Stephane de Sakutin/Copyright 2019 The AP. All rights reserved
By Sophia Khatsenkova
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French right-wing European election candidate François-Xavier Bellamy is campaigning on physical EU border barriers, more nuclear power, and re-industrialization of Europe. But will these points win over voters?

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Lagging in the upcoming European elections polls, the French right-wing candidate Francois-Xavier Bellamy is desperate to boost his campaign. 

Announcing the French Republican party’s (Les Républicains) program on Tuesday in Paris, the MEP has decided to focus his campaign on two themes: immigration and European sovereignty. 

The candidate says he favours the construction of physical walls at the EU's borders — an idea reminiscent of former US President Donald Trump’s signature promise in 2016, although his party doesn't go as far as to call it a “border wall".

The right is also considering maintaining a “safeguard clause” in which each member country could reestablish control of its own borders in the event of an emergency.

When it comes to European sovereignty, the program is a vast one. According to Bellamy, to become strong again, "the European Union must profoundly change its course." 

"Our entire continent is going through a deep crisis. And the issue is twofold: Europe's decline in the world, and France's decline in Europe."

That means less regulation and rules and instead investing more in technology and re-industrialising the continent. 

Sovereignty also means investing more in a common European defence for the right-wing candidate. 

"I propose that all European states raise their contribution to the collective defence effort to 3% of their GDP," to NATO, a group of 32 countries from Europe and North America that exists to protect the people and territory of its members.

"No second-term for Ursula Von Der Leyen"

To achieve these goals, Bellamy makes it clear: his party will not vote for current European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who is part of his European People's Party (EPP) in Brussels. 

The right-wing candidate also assured that he was the head of the only right-wing party in France that could make his country’s voice heard in Brussels. 

"We will be the representatives of the French within the leading European political party, the European People's Party, to which we belong. We are the only list that can enable France to make tomorrow's decision in the European debate."

When asked how his party would be able to influence the EPP if von der Leyen were to be re-elected, Bellamy insisted that other MEPs within the party will be voting against her. 

“We do not want to give Ursula von der Leyen a second term of office. The least we can say is that this position is far from marginal, and is shared by a large proportion of the political groupings that make up the EPP.”

But with only 8% of the voting intentions, the traditional right-wing party finds itself caught in between French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party which leans towards the centre-right and the far-right National Rally party currently leading the polls at 32%.

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