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Three-way race as French right holds presidential primary

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy remains a highly divisive figure in France four years after he left officeFrance’s right-wing presidential hopefuls kick off their nominating contest Sunday as a sudden tightening of the race cast doubt on ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy’s chances of regaining the Elysee Palace. A late surge by the third-placed Francois Fillon, who was prime minister under Sarkozy, catapulted him into pole position for the first-round primary vote. A voter survey on Friday gave 62-year-old Fillon 30 percent to 29 percent for both Sarkozy, 61, and Alain Juppe, 71, also a former prime minister who had been the frontrunner for the past two months.

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