Other Conservatives Should Be Wary of Imitating Kurz and May

Sebastian Kurz is seen leaving an Austrian People's Party meeting in Vienna, May 14
Sebastian Kurz is seen leaving an Austrian People’s Party meeting in Vienna, May 14 (ÖVP/Jakob Glaser)

Center-right parties in Western Europe are responding to competition from the nativist right in radically different ways.

Whereas Dutch prime minister and liberal party leader Mark Rutte argued against the “pessimism” of the nationalist Freedom Party in the March election and won, conservative leaders in Austria and the United Kingdom have chosen to appease reactionary voters. Read more

After Presidential Defeat, French Parties Divided

The French Socialist Party's Benoît Hamon participates in a meeting, March 21
The French Socialist Party’s Benoît Hamon participates in a meeting, March 21 (Facebook)

Neither of France’s two major political parties was able to get their candidate into the second voting round of the presidential election last week. That failure, without precedent in the history of the Fifth Republic, has plunged them both into a deep crisis. Read more

The Programs of France’s Presidential Candidates Compared

Polls suggest five candidates stand a chance of qualifying for the crucial second voting round in France’s presidential election next month.

They range from the far left to the far right, but a look at their policies suggests that these categories may have outlived their usefulness. Read more

Fillon Refuses to Drop Out, Hurting the Right’s Chances in France

French Republican François Fillon attends a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Brussels, December 15, 2016
French Republican François Fillon attends a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Brussels, December 15, 2016 (EPP)

François Fillon has gone back on his word and said he will remain a candidate for the French presidency, despite an investigation being opened into accusations that he paid his wife hundreds of thousands of euros over the years for a fictitious job.

Fillon, the center-right Republican candidate, had earlier vowed to pull out of the contest if such an investigation was launched.

Now he maintains it is up to the French people. Read more

By June, France Will Have a More Pro-Russian President

French prime minister François Fillon in Paris, June 28, 2010
French prime minister François Fillon in Paris, June 28, 2010 (British Embassy)

The victory of François Fillon in the French center-right primary on Sunday means that, barring a major surprise, he will fight the second round of May’s presidential election against the far right’s Marine Le Pen.

This, in turn, guarantees that by June, France will have a president who, if not openly pro-Russian, has considerable sympathies for the views of Vladimir Putin. Read more

Conservative Fillon Triumphs in French Presidential Primary

Former French prime ministers Alain Juppé and François Fillon
Former French prime ministers Alain Juppé and François Fillon (UN Geneva/EPP)
  • French conservatives on Sunday nominated former prime minister François Fillon as their presidential candidate.
  • Alain Juppé, another former prime minister, lost the second voting round in the Republicans’ first-ever presidential primary with 33 to 67 percent support.
  • Given the unpopularity of the ruling Socialist Party, Fillon is now the favorite to win the presidency in 2017. Read more

François Fillon Leads Revolt of France’s “Discreet Bourgeoisie”

Former French prime minister François Fillon attends a meeting with other European conservative leaders in Brussels, March 1, 2012
Former French prime minister François Fillon attends a meeting with other European conservative leaders in Brussels, March 1, 2012 (EPP)

François Fillon’s unexpectedly strong showing in the French center-right’s primary last weekend has send shockwaves through the French political establishment.

Fillon’s remaining opponent, Alain Juppé — another former prime minister — has lashed out at what he calls a “brutal” economic program and a “conservative, backward-looking” vision for the country.

Fillon isn’t shying away from the label “Thatcherite”, which was once toxic in France. He wants to cut benefits and public-sector jobs in order to bring government spending down from 57 to under 50 percent of gross domestic product. He is also campaigning on longer working hours, a higher retirement age and €40 billion worth of tax cuts for businesses.

That’s more radical than what Juppé has in mind, but both men want to roll back the French welfare state and eliminate taxes and restrictive labor policies that make the country less competitive than its neighbors.

It’s on social issues where they truly diverge — and the differences between them reflect a divided France. Read more