Conservative Fillon Triumphs in French Center-Right Primary

  • 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 “Conservative Fillon Triumphs in French Center-Right Primary”

For French Right, Juppé Is the Safer Choice

Alain Juppé
Alain Juppé, then the foreign minister of France, gives a speech at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, February 27, 2012 (UN Geneva/Jean-Marc Ferré)

There is a good chance François Fillon will prevail in the second round of the French center-right presidential primary next weekend. The former premier got 44 percent support in the first voting round on Sunday.

His closest rival, Alain Juppé, got 28 percent. Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president, received less than 21 percent support, forcing him out of the race.

It seems unlikely many of Sarkozy’s voters will switch to Juppé. Fillon takes a harder line on immigration and identity issues. Like Sarkozy, he also favors rapprochement with Russia.

Juppé, by contrast, emphasizes the need to heal divisions in French society and has spoken out against the right’s “Russophilia”. Read more “For French Right, Juppé Is the Safer Choice”

Russia Divides French Right’s Presidential Contenders

Nicolas Sarkozy
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy attends a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Brussels, March 19, 2015 (EPP)

A major foreign-policy issue that divides the top three contenders for the French right’s presidential nomination is Russia.

BuzzFeed reports how Nicolas Sarkozy has transformed himself from a Vladimir Putin critic into a Vladimir Putin apologist since he lost the presidency in 2012.

The former president has criticized President François Hollande’s handling of relations with Russia. He argues the EU should suspend sanctions against Russia. And most controversially, the former president has endorsed a referendum annexing Crimea to Russia, a view that puts him at odds with most UN states.

François Fillon, Sarkozy’s former prime minister, has struck a conciliatory tone as well.

He told the magazine Valeurs actuelles this week it was “fortunate” Russia had intervened in the Syrian conflict, otherwise the self-proclaimed Islamic State might have reached Damascus by now.

In reality, Russia’s objective in Syria is to prop up the regime of Bashar al-Assad. It has not prioritized fighting the Islamic State, which mostly does battle with Western-backed forces in Iraq and Syria. Read more “Russia Divides French Right’s Presidential Contenders”

Former Premiers Knock Sarkozy Out of Presidential Contest

  • Former prime ministers François Fillon and Alain Juppé got the most support in the first round of the French center-right’s presidential primary on Sunday.
  • Of the two, Juppé is the more mainstream and pro-European candidate.
  • Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president, placed third and was eliminated from the contest.
  • The winner will be decided in a second voting round next week. Read more “Former Premiers Knock Sarkozy Out of Presidential Contest”

Sarkozy’s Hard Line Pushes Center-Right Voters to Juppé

Alain Juppé
Alain Juppé, then the foreign minister of France, gives a speech at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, February 27, 2012 (UN Geneva/Jean-Marc Ferré)

Polls suggest former French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s right-wing strategy to win his party’s presidential nomination is not paying off.

After the seven Republican candidates vying to replace François Hollande, the Socialist Party incumbent, next year participated in the first televised debate of the primary last week, Alain Juppé, a former prime minister, remained in the lead with almost 40 percent support.

Sarkozy is polling around 33 percent. Read more “Sarkozy’s Hard Line Pushes Center-Right Voters to Juppé”

British EU Exit Divides French Presidential Hopefuls

Alain Juppé, then the foreign minister of France, gives a speech at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, February 27, 2012
Alain Juppé, then the foreign minister of France, gives a speech at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, February 27, 2012 (UN Geneva/Jean-Marc Ferré)

The two leading contenders for the French right’s presidential nomination are drawing different lessons from the EU referendum across the Channel.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president who sees the Euroskeptic Front national as the biggest threat to his party, Les Républicains, argues that Britain’s exit is a wake-up call for the rest of Europe. He wants sweeping treaty changes to take power away from the European Commission and create a joint Franco-German presidency of the eurozone.

Sarkozy has previously called for a revision of the Schengen free-travel area to make it harder for immigrants to cross the bloc’s internal borders.

His rival, Alain Juppé, a former prime minister who appeals more to French voters in the center, agrees that Europe needs to take a step back. He has proposed a pause on enlargement and wants fewer rules coming out of Brussels.

But he also argues now is the time to reinvigorate the European Union with new purpose. “For France, Europe doesn’t make sense if it isn’t a political project,” he writes.

That’s the view across the south. Italy and Spain argue the answer to Brexit is “more Europe” whereas Central and Northern European member states, including the Netherlands and Poland, fear that would only aggravate Euroskepticism. Read more “British EU Exit Divides French Presidential Hopefuls”