12 candidates in the running for French president
(CNN) -- There are 12 candiates running for president of France in the first round of voting on April 22. Here is a brief description of the candidates: Nicolas Sarkozy, 52, former French Interior Minister and head of the ruling conservative UMP party. Sarkozy is tough on illegal immigration, pro-American and favors a mix of interventionist and free-market economic policies.Segolene Royal, 53, member of the French assembly from Poitou-Charente and a prominent figure in the Socialist party. Royal hopes to become France's first woman president. Critics say she relies more on image than substance and she has struggled to revive her campaign. Supporters say she breathes life into male-dominated politics.Francois Bayrou, 55, president of the Union for French Democracy. A pro-European centrist, Bayrou has surged higher in the polls as voters rally to his vision of a grand coalition government. He is now a genuine contender.Jean-Marie Le Pen, 78, far-right nationalist, member of the European Parliament and founder the Front National Party. The political veteran stunned France in 2002 by reaching the run off. This is his fifth bid for the presidency and he is convinced he'll repeat his 2002 shock, but is struggling in the polls.Olivier Besancenot, 32, head of the French Trotskyist Revolutionary Communist League, France's second major Trotskyist party, Besancenot, known as the "little red postman" after his job, won 4.25 percent in 2002.Jose Bove, 53, French syndicalist, member of the anti-globalization movement, and spokesman for Via Campesina. Bove is a farmer activist and anti-globalization militant.Marie-George Buffet, 57, head for the French Communist Party, much weakened since the end of the Cold War. She is the former minister of youth affairs and has barely registered in the polls.Arlette Laguiller, 66, a Trotskyist and leader of the Lutte Ouvriere political party. She first ran in 1974 and helped sink Socialist Lionel Jospin in 2002 by gaining 5.7 percent of vote but is struggling to make headway now.Frederic Nihous, 39, a member of the Hunting, Fishing, Nature, Tradition party aiming to defend traditional rural values.Gerard Schivardi, a little-known leftist and anti-EU mayor of Mailhac and founder of the National Committee for Defence of Communes and Public Services in France.Philippe de Villiers, 57, the aristocratic head of the far-right Movement for France party and member of the European Parliament.Dominique Voynet, 48, a French senator for from Seine-Saint-Denis, and former environment leader who is struggling to hold her fractious Greens party together.
-- Compiled by Zein Basravi for CNN