Fillon & Juppe to go Head-to-Head for French Conservative Presidential TicketNovember 24, 2016 in France
On Sunday 20 November, the French conservative party held its first-round voting to select its candidate for next year’s presidential election. Francois Fillon will now head into a five-day runoff campaign for the presidential ticket. He is favoured over his opponent, Alain Juppe, after the first-round vote resulted in the ouster of ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy from the race.
Fillon is up against another former prime minister, Alain Juppe, in a second round of the primaries, which will be held on 27 November. Juppe now has a week to turn around his momentum-sapped campaign and win over the supporters of the other candidates. However this may be a difficult task for Juppe, as Fillon was only six points short of the 50-percent threshold needed in the first round, and has Sarkozy on his side. Sounding downcast late on Sunday, Juppe told his supporters that he would “carry on fighting” and billed himself as the best option to defeat far-right party leader Marine Le Pen, whom polls predict will make it to the second round of the presidential election.
Any French voter can take part in the run-off election next Sunday. Furthermore the views of pollsters and commentators have been much confounded in popular votes worldwide this year, including Brexit in the UK and the US presidential election, not least Sunday’s vote in which Fillon did far better than expected.
What is at stake is an almost certain place in the second round of next May’s presidential election. It is likely that the conservative challenger will face National Front party leader Marine Le Pen. Market analysts have said that the outcome of Sunday’s vote opens up new uncertainty about the result of next year’s presidential election and may increase what is still a remote risk that far-right leader Marine Le Pen can win it. A BVA poll in September indicated that Fillon would beat Le Pen by a margin of 61 percent of votes to 39 percent however recent opinion polls scenarios have not pitted him against her – in what is further evidence of how unexpected his top spot on Sunday was. More recent polls have consistently shown that Juppe would easily beat Le Pen. Polls have also indicated that Fillon is much less popular than Juppe amidst left-wing voters, which could make it harder for him to get their vote versus Le Pen.
Whatever the out come will be of Sunday’s election, next year’s presidential and legislative elections are already shaping up to be another battle of strengths between mainstream parties and rising popularist forces. The ruling Socialist party and its allies will hold their own primaries in January 2017. French President Francois Hollande, whose popularity ratings are abysmal, has yet to announce whether he will stand again, however polls have already indicated that it is unlikely that he would win in the primaries.