Europe

Rightist rivals in France heat up presidential primary

  • Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, right,  arrives with his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy to delivers his speech as he runs for the 2017 presidential election in Paris, France, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

    Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, right, arrives with his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy to delivers his speech as he runs for the 2017 presidential election in Paris, France, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)  (The Associated Press)

  • Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy delivers his speech as he runs for the 2017 presidential election in Paris, France, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

    Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy delivers his speech as he runs for the 2017 presidential election in Paris, France, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)  (The Associated Press)

  • Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, holds the hand of his  wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, at the end of his speech as he runs for the 2017 presidential election in Paris, France, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

    Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, holds the hand of his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, at the end of his speech as he runs for the 2017 presidential election in Paris, France, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)  (The Associated Press)

The rivalry is heating up between the two top contenders for France's conservative presidential primary next month — former president Nicolas Sarkozy and former prime minister Alain Juppe.

The two experienced, high-profile figures of The Republicans' party outlined their visions of France's national identity, immigration and Islam during campaign rallies in the Paris area over the weekend.

Sarkozy, 61, is emphasizing France's "spiral of decline" and focusing on attracting voters from the far-right.

Juppe, 71, has advocated a "hopeful" vision of the country's future and tried to expand his base with voters from the center and the right who were disenchanted by Sarkozy's presidency.

Many voters think the winner of the November primary has a good chance to succeed Socialist Francois Hollande — the most unpopular president of France's modern history.