After the UK’s Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s US victory, it’s France’s turn for a shock result. The politician who French polls put in third place for months stormed to a winning lead in the first round of the French Republican Party primaries.
Francois Fillon, long considered a political has-been, was the unexpected winner.
Fillon, described as calm and serious, is a social conservative with economically liberal ideas has proposed tough measures to shake up the economy.
Admitting defeat, Nicolas Sarkozy endorsed Fillon, who like his rival Alain Juppé, is a former prime minister.
“It is now time for me to approach a life of more private passions and less public passions. Good luck to France, good luck to you my dear compatriots.”
Sarkozy, who previously retired form political life four years ago, had returned through what he said was a sense of duty. In his book “All for France” he wrote he felt he had the strength to fight this battle at such a tormented time in history.”
Sarkozy’s name has been tarnished by a series of setbacks: alleged irregularities in his failed 2012 re-election campaign and the Libya case.
Juppé came second in Sunday’s (November 20) primaries. The moderate conservative had for months been ahead in the polls. But over the last week the contest was been transformed into a tight race between the three men.
Juppé is staunchly pro-European. He is seen as a voice of moderation on issues of immigration and national identity.
Socialist President Francois Hollande, who is deeply unpopular, has yet to announce whether he will stand again.
Fillon and Juppé will face each other in a runoff this weekend (November 27). The winner will compete in next year’s presidential election and is likely to make the presidential runoff in May, 2017.