For the first time leading up to a presidential campaign season, France will host an open primary to choose the nominee who will go on to represent the political centre-right on the national ticket.
Leaders in the centre-right party Les Republicains, formerly the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), announced the rules that would guide the primary in April 2014, according to newspaper Les Echos.
But since then, the organization has been turned over to a team that claims strict independence from all political parties. The so-called Primary High Authority, led by jurist Anne Levade, will ensure regularity and oversee results tallying.
Any political party or grouping can request to take part in the primary, with each individual party defining the rules for becoming a candidate.
For Les Republicains, candidates are required to be backed by 250 elected officials - 20 of whom must be members of parliament - and 2,500 supporters.
Most of the seven candidates chosen to contest the primary are from Les Republicains: former president Nicolas Sarkozy, former prime minister Alain Juppe, former prime minister Francois Fillon, legislators Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet and Bruno Le Maire and deputy mayor of Meaux, Jean-Francois Cope.
Sarkozy and Juppe are currently leading in the polls.
Jean-Frederic Poisson, who represents the Christian Democratic Party, is also standing in the primary.
Voting in the primary will take place on November 20, with a second round on November 27 if no candidate clinches more than 50 per cent in the first round.
Participation is open to every French registered voter, provided they contribute 2 euros (2.23 dollars) to offset the costs of administering the poll and sign a statement affirming support for the centre- and the right-wing of the political spectrum.