Fillion may win Juppé but can he win Le Pen?

Tuesday's cover picture of Liberation, making François Fillon look more Margaret Thatcher

Fillion may win Juppé but can he win Le Pen?


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François Fillon,62, went from being the outsider to being the favourite for the nomination of the French right, winning over the frontrunner Alain Juppé.

Fillon got 44% against to Juppe’s 28%.

the front-running candidate combines anti-Jihadist credentials — having recently written a book on the subject — with the belief that French colonialism is a way for France to share its culture, as he recently remarked. He supports publically Christian family values, is against same-sex marriage and has a rather unclear position on abortion rights. In sum, he is fashionably not politically correct.

When he served as Sarkozy’s Prime Minister, in 2009, he denied Ms. Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet a ministerial post because she was pregnant.Ms. Kosciusko Morizet is now supporting Mr. Juppe for the nomination.

He is also a proud “Thatcherite” who wants to fire half a million public servants, get rid of the 35-hour week, and move towards an easy hire, easy-fire labour market. Liberation made this point yesterday by a cover picture that made the comparison rather more explicit on its front-page cover (see picture).

Like most of the leaders of the far-right or sovereignist movement, Fillion favours a rapprochement with Vladimir Putin in Syria and is willing to work with President-elect Donald Trump. In sum, his pitch to French voters combines elements of the Sarkozy message with elements of the Macron liberal reformist zeal.

For over a year, the favourite to win the first round of the French Presidential elections is the far-right leader Marine Le Pen. The Front National took 27% in regional elections in December 2015. The Economist estimates Ms. Le Pen has a 40% chance of becoming France’s next president. Recent polls suggest Le Pen could easily reach 30% in the first round of the French Presidential elections.

In theory, Le Pen would lose in the second round of Presidential elections, as whoever comes second is likely to benefit from the pro-European vote across the board. However, the Brexit and Trump effect have largely discredited similar projections. And with Fillion’s profile that appears less likely.

 

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