Europe

French conservatives voting in first presidential primary

  • People hold banners and shout slogans against President-elect Donald Trump, in Paris, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. A few hundreds of critics of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump have marched through Paris to express concern about his respect for human rights, women and minorities. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

    People hold banners and shout slogans against President-elect Donald Trump, in Paris, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. A few hundreds of critics of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump have marched through Paris to express concern about his respect for human rights, women and minorities. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)  (The Associated Press)

  • Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, center, leave the polling station after casting their votes for the conservative primary election, in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. French conservatives are voting in a nationwide primary to choose their nominee for next year's presidential election, after a campaign marked by concerns about immigration and Islamic extremism. (Eric Feferberg/Pool Photo via AP)

    Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, center, leave the polling station after casting their votes for the conservative primary election, in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. French conservatives are voting in a nationwide primary to choose their nominee for next year's presidential election, after a campaign marked by concerns about immigration and Islamic extremism. (Eric Feferberg/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Former prime minister and Bordeaux's mayor Alain Juppe, a candidate for France's upcoming presidential primary election arrives to vote in the conservative primary election in Bordeaux, southwestern France, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. French conservatives are voting in a nationwide primary to choose their nominee for next year's presidential election, after a campaign marked by concerns about immigration and Islamic extremism. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

    Former prime minister and Bordeaux's mayor Alain Juppe, a candidate for France's upcoming presidential primary election arrives to vote in the conservative primary election in Bordeaux, southwestern France, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. French conservatives are voting in a nationwide primary to choose their nominee for next year's presidential election, after a campaign marked by concerns about immigration and Islamic extremism. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)  (The Associated Press)

French conservatives are voting in a nationwide primary to choose their nominee for next year's presidential election, after a campaign marked by concerns about immigration and Islamic extremism.

Seven candidates are competing Sunday in the first round of the primary. A runoff will be held between the top two vote-getters a week later.

The three leading candidates are former president Nicolas Sarkozy and former prime ministers Francois Fillon and Alain Juppe.

The candidates have been keeping a close eye on far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, whose criticism of immigration and Muslim practices resonates with many voters.

It's the first such primary organized by France's conservatives, making the outcome hard to predict. Candidates previously were designated internally.

Results from the first-round voting are expected late Sunday.