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”

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”

First Presidential Primary in France Becomes Sarkozy’s Downfall

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy speaks at a meeting with other European conservative leaders in Brussels, June 28
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy speaks at a meeting with other European conservative leaders in Brussels, June 28 (EPP)

The political comeback of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy came to an abrupt halt on Sunday night, when he placed a disappointing third in the contest for his party’s 2017 presidential nomination.

Sarkozy had been expected to quality for a runoff next week together with Alain Juppé, a former prime minister.

But Sarkozy’s own former premier, François Fillon, surged into first place, winning 44 percent support with 3.2 million of the votes counted.

Juppé placed second with 28 percent support, followed by Sarkozy at 21 percent. Read more “First Presidential Primary in France Becomes Sarkozy’s Downfall”

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”

Fillon Unexpectedly Surges in French Presidential Primary

Former French prime ministers François Fillon, Jean-Pierre Raffarin and Alain Juppé make a statement to the media in Paris, July 8, 2014
Former French prime ministers François Fillon, Jean-Pierre Raffarin and Alain Juppé make a statement to the media in Paris, July 8, 2014 (UMP)

Former French prime minister François Fillon appears to have upended the contest for his party’s presidential nomination only days away from the first voting round.

Alain Juppé, another former prime minister, has been in the lead for months, polling around 35 to 40 percent support.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president, has consistently polled in second place with around 30 percent support.

Fillon didn’t get more than 10 percent until the start of this month but has now surged at Juppé’s expense and turned the primary into a three-way dead heat. Read more “Fillon Unexpectedly Surges in French Presidential Primary”

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”