Marine Le Pen and Anne Hidalgo commenced their presidential campaign on Sunday as they seek to become France’s first female leader in 2022’s spring election. While Marine belongs to the far-right National Rally party, Anne is a Socialist mayor.

With this, they joined a burgeoning list of challengers to centrist President Emmanuel Macron, including multiple potential candidates on the right — including another female politician Valerie Pecresse — and among the Greens.

The 62-year-old Anne has been the mayor of the French capital Paris since 2014 and launched her candidacy in the northwestern city of Rouen. She is also the favourite to win the Socialist Party nomination.

“I want all children in France to have the same opportunities I had,” Associated Press quoted her as saying.

Anne is the daughter of Spanish immigrants who fled their country in search of freedom amid dictator Francisco Franco’s rule.

Marine, 53, is the leader of France’s far-right party and started her campaign in the southern city of Frejus with a pledge to defend French “liberty.”

In keeping with a hard-right message that critics say has vilified Muslim communities, Marine promised to be tough on “parts of France that have been Talibanized.” Albeit she launched her candidacy earlier this year, this time, she made 26-year-old Jordan Bardella the acting head of the party.

The 53-year-old leader is remaking her image for this election. She now will be donning light blue for the campaign, “to show our vision, less partisan, (reaching) higher,” her special councillor Philippe Olivier was quoted as saying by Le Figaro, the conservative daily.

Macron, 43, has not yet announced his reelection bid but is expected to do so. Launching a candidacy in France is a necessary formality for each presidential election.

The vote is expected to boil down to a duel between Marine and Macron, as it was during France’s last presidential election in 2017.