Image: Sud Ouest
Former Prime Minister François Fillon has won the conservative primaries, beating a more centrist candidate, Alain Juppé, for next year’s presidential election in France. Fillon, 62, a man who has been involved in French politics for a long time, called for economic sacrifice, major crackdowns on immigration and Islam, has won 68.6% of the vote in the second round of his primaries on Sunday, defeating his opponent, Juppé, 71, with 31.4% of the vote.
Both Fillon and Juppé campaigned for cuts in federal spending and raising the retirement age, but Fillon’s proposals were more drastic and simply faster. These results from the first round were another large upset for pollsters (*cough* Donald Trump *cough*) when Fillon emerged with an unexpected victory on November 20th. Last Thursday, a televised debate between Fillon and Juppé was held, and it definitely did assist Fillon towards his victory.
French presidential elections are decided in two rounds. The first round winnows the race to two candidates who then face-off in the second round. The winner, Fillon, then is expected to be one of the two competitors in the general election.
It is now showing to be unlikely that the current governing party will present Fillon’s opponent due to disarray after five years of high unemployment rates and slow economic growth. The current president, François Hollande has not yet announced his candidacy, and many members of his party hope that he chooses not to run again. Instead, Fillon’s competition will be the leader of the far-right National Front, Marine Le Pen. Historically, her party has never been able to attract more than one-third of the electorate, but at least for the time being, few analysts predict that she could win the presidency. Their xenophobic, anti-immigration, far— almost “alt-right” party has been given a boost by the outcome of our election.
Fillon’s campaign promises of cutting 500,000 government jobs and cutting the national budget by 100 billion Euros could create vulnerability against his opponent, Le Pen, who has pledged to safeguard France’s substantial government protections and spending.
In Fillon’s victory speech, he emphasized the standard French conservative themes of restoring “authority” and “French values” as he did throughout his entire campaign. Juppé, on the other hand, fought for “unity” which led many conspiracy theorists to believe that he was a leftist in disguise.
With many citizens uneasy over immigration and Islam due to recent terror attacks, Fillon vowed to bring back a more traditional society by strictly regulating Islam and immigration. He also said that he would form an alliance with Russia to stomp out what he called “totalitarian” Muslims. Reporters have been showing Fillon’s close relations with Vladimir Putin as well.