France Eyes Macron-Le Pen Runoff After First Voting Round

  • The French voted in the first round of their presidential election on Sunday.
  • The centrist Emmanuel Macron placed first with 24 percent support, followed by nationalist party leader Marine Le Pen at 21.3 percent.
  • The center-right Republican candidate, François Fillon, the far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the ruling Socialist Party’s Benoît Hamon were eliminated from the contest.
  • A runoff between the two leading contenders is scheduled for Sunday, May 7.
  • Surveys show Macron beating Le Pen by a 20- to 30-point margin. Read more “France Eyes Macron-Le Pen Runoff After First Voting Round”

Hamon, Macron Face Putin Apologists in French Debate

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)

Benoît Hamon and Emmanuel Macron don’t have a lot in common. The former wants to raise taxes in France in order to finance a universal basic income. The latter wants to cut taxes and reduce public spending.

Yet the two presidential candidates made common cause on Monday, when they faced three Putin apologists in the first televised debate of the 2017 campaign. Read more “Hamon, Macron Face Putin Apologists in French Debate”

Fillon Disqualifies Himself by Smearing Investigators

French Republican leader François Fillon arrives in Brussels for a meeting with other European conservative party leaders, December 15, 2016
French Republican leader François Fillon arrives in Brussels for a meeting with other European conservative party leaders, December 15, 2016 (EPP)

French presidential candidate François Fillon has gone down the same road as Brexiteers in the United Kingdom and Donald Trump in the United States by disparaging the institutions that stand in his way and appealing directly to “the people”.

Fillon, the center-right Republican candidate for the presidential elections in April and May, has dismissed charges that he paid his wife hundreds of thousands of euros over the years for a fictitious job as a “political assassination”.

He alleges that the rule of law “has been systematically violated” in France and that “the notion of innocent until proven guilty has completely disappeared.” Read more “Fillon Disqualifies Himself by Smearing Investigators”

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

François Fillon
French Republican leader François Fillon arrives in Brussels for a meeting with other European conservative party leaders, 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.

“Only universal suffrage, and not an investigation, can decide who will be the next president of the republic,” he told reporters in Paris.

Fillon also repeated his allegation that the probe is politically motivated. “It is an assassination,” he said. Read more “Fillon Refuses to Drop Out, Hurting the Right’s Chances in France”

Stars Align in Emmanuel Macron’s Favor in France

Former French economy minister Emmanuel Macron changes his tie on a train, December 31, 2016
Former French economy minister Emmanuel Macron changes his tie on a train, December 31, 2016 (Facebook)

Emmanuel Macron’s chances of winning the French presidency have never looked so good.

Recent surveys have him neck and neck with the conservative candidate, François Fillon. In some, he is even beating Fillon into third place, which would give Macron a spot in the second-round runoff against Marine Le Pen.

What’s changed from a few weeks ago, when Macron was in third place, is that the Socialists have nominated a far-leftist, Benoît Hamon, for the presidency and Fillon has been caught up in an expenses scandal. Read more “Stars Align in Emmanuel Macron’s Favor in France”

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

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”

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

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”