Municipality s employees set voting booths in a polling station ahead of the referendum on independence in Noumea, on the French South Pacific territory of New Caledonia, on December 10, 2021. AFP
Valerie Pecresse, a former chief of the Paris region, was elected as The Republicans' first female presidential candidate on December 4 to challenge President Emmanuel Macron in April 2022.
The 54-year-old slammed Macron's record and said she aimed to "renew France in five years and make it Europe's foremost power in 10 years' time", pledging to be a "war leader each time France is threatened".
Pecresse said she would "stop uncontrolled immigration, break the ghettoes and restore security" in France, which has suffered several terrorist attacks in recent years partly perpetrated by French citizens from ethnic minorities.
She also set a hard stance against "statue topplers" and the "public prosecutors of our past" after racial justice protests inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement targeted memorials connected with France's colonial history.
But Pecresse attacked far-right presidential candidates Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour, referring to "extremism that feeds off our problems without wanting or being able to resolve them".
"A few weeks ago, they said we were buried, divided, lost. But we're back, in battle order, for victory," she added.
"My programme is radical because the situation demands it."
Pecresse also pledged to loosen French labour laws, raise the retirement age to 65 and ease inheritance tax.