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French presidential hopeful Fillon seeks scandal respite in the sun


France

French presidential hopeful Fillon seeks scandal respite in the sun

Hot Topic Learn more about French presidential election 2017

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Embattled French presidential candidate Francois Fillon received the warmest of welcomes on Saturday – more than 9,000 kilometres from the mainland.

On France’s Indian Ocean island of Reunion, he is hoping to get away from the scandal over claims he gave ‘fake jobs’ to his wife and two of his children.

Supporters admire Fillon’s determination to carry on.

“He must not give up because he is not the only one in this situation,” said Alain Kepler, one of those waiting to greet Fillon.

“Here in Reunion there have been several cases…and there always will be. That it how it is. That’s democracy.”



But Fillon is under intense pressure. Opinion polls predict he will be eliminated in the first round of voting this Spring and a new survey suggests that seven out of 10 voters want him to step down.

Heading the polls is far-right ‘Front National’ leader Marine Le Pen.



But voter surveys also show Le Pen being beaten easily in the second round run-off by either centrist Emmanuel Macron, a former economy minister in Francois Hollande’s government, or Francois Fillon, should he qualify.

The Socialists’ Benoit Hamon meanwhile – whose left-wing programme include a ‘universal income’ for all citizens – continues to trail in fourth place.

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