French Voters Back Fillon as Centre-Right Candidate for Next Year’s Presidential ElectionDecember 5, 2016 in France
France’s centre-right has rallied behind Francois Fillon as its candidate for president, with a snap opinion poll showing him the clear favourite to beat far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the presidential election in the spring.
On 27 November, Fillon, a former prime minister who vowed to change France’s “software” with an assault on public sector spending, moved one step closer to the Elysee by securing a resounding victory over Alain Juppe, another former prime minister, in the Les Republicains primary vote. Fillon secured two-thirds of the vote on Sunday, winning 66.5% to 33.5%. He however was not the favourite to win as at the start of the campaigning season, former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who was ousted in the first round of the conservative primary, and Juppe had both been given far better odds of winning the ticket than Fillon. Both men however have since rallied behind the 62-year-old in the wake of his triumph.
Meanwhile the ruling Socialist party has attempted to quell talk of a fallout between deeply unpopular President Francois Hollande and his prime minister Manuel Valls. Sources have indicated that tensions have increased between the two in recent weeks over which of them should seek the party ticket in their primary, which is set to take place in January 2017. The tensions come after Valls suggested on Sunday that he might stand against President Hollande in the party primaries. The president’s office however has disclosed that the two had lunch together on Monday in a “cordial” atmosphere and government spokesman Stephane Le Foll has stressed that Mr Valls would need to resign in order to stand. Opinion polls however have shown that whoever does run for the Left is likely to come in third behind Fillon and National Front (FN) leader Le Pen in the election’s first round next April. According to the Harris Interactive poll for French parliamentary TV, Mr Fillon would lead the National Front candidate by 26% to 24% in the first round of voting, then win the run-off against her by 67% to 33%. The same poll also indicates that Mr Hollande or Mr Valls would win just 9% for the Socialists.
The presidential election will be held over two weekends in April and May.