Francois Fillon, France’s dark horse in the primaries is now a strong favourite for president.
On winning the Republican party’s nomination contest, the centre-right candidate said Francoise Hollande’s left has failed and Marine Le Pen’s far-right means bankruptcy. He said his job is to rise to the challenge of changing France and changing its software.
Fillon has promised to slash the cost of government, by getting rid of half a million public sector jobs over five years, abolishing France’s 35-hour week and raising the retirement age from 62 to 65.
Part of the radical economic reform plan Fillon has laid out to ‘halt the decline of France’.
In another sign of his determination to reduce state involvement in the economy, Fillon? wants to roll back state spending and slash red tape in the healthcare sector.
Among other things, he would like to abolish wealth tax, take action on immigration, and invest in security, justice and defence.
A moderate European, he has defended a Europe of states and national identities. He’s called for a genuine government for the eurozone, which would be autonomous from the European Commission.
Ultimately he wants a strong and sovereign France within the EU.
Fillon says Russian President Vladimir Putin is no threat to the West and should be a partner rather than a rival in Syria.
He also says European sanctions against Russia over Crimea should be lifted.
“I saw that some people caricatured my remarks by painting me as close to the Russian president,” Fillon noted. “It’s absurd, when the France of the Resistance aligned itself with Stalin against Nazism, did we suspect General De Gaulle of becoming a communist?”
Fillon says his cost-cutting plan is doable if public servants work 39 hours a week instead of the current 35.