French President Francois Hollande gestures during a ceremony for the start of the week of the retired and elderly people at the Elysee presidential Palace on October 4, 2016 in Paris. / AFP / POOL / PHILIPPE WOJAZER
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Marine Le Pen, the undisputed leader of the far-right, is already in full campaign mode, unencumbered by rivals and set for a predicted first- or second-place showing in the first round of the presidential vote on April 23 .The Republicans' primary next month is shaping up to be a close race between veteran former Prime Minister Alain Juppe and Nicolas Sarkozy, who lost the presidency to Hollande in 2012 .Whatever Hollande decides, the delay has already been toxic for the Socialist Party.After the Republicans' primary, Hollande will have less than two months – straddling the end-of-year holidays – to make his case for nomination, something of a humiliation for an incumbent that underlines his weakness.Le Pen established her credentials by winning 18 percent in the first round of the 2012 presidential vote, behind the incumbent Sarkozy and eventual winner Hollande.
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