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Who is Francois Fillon?

Who is Francois Fillon?
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By Catherine Hardy with Reuters
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Socially conservative, free market and pro-Russia are just some of the terms used to describe France's centre-right candidate for next year's presidential election.

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Francois Fillon has issued a call for “all those who want to serve France to bring an end to the last five years of misery”.

An overwhelming majority of party voters chose the 62-year-old to stand as the centre-right’s candidate for the 2017 presidential election in France in a primary contest on Sunday.

What his rivals said

Fillon admitted his thoughts were with Nicolas Sarkozy, who had called for the party faithful to vote for him.

He sent a message of “friendship, esteem and respect” to his closest rival, Alain Juppe.

“I would like to say how much I am counting on him (Fillon) to help us in this battle, which is only just beginning,” said former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Ex-prime minister Alain Juppe says he plans to concentrate on his role as mayor of Bordeaux.

Fillon v Juppe: how French right's presidential hopefuls shape up https://t.co/TXMV5Y9LbGpic.twitter.com/HanC3F2BZ2

— AFP news agency (@AFP) November 27, 2016

The numbers

  • Nine million voters
  • 67% voted for Fillon
  • 33% voted for his closest rival, Alain Juppe

Who is Francois Fillon?

François Fillon, le miraculé qu’ils n’avaient pas vu revenir https://t.co/tQXkXzzWXLpic.twitter.com/zwlFShm6oR

— Libération (@libe) November 28, 2016

Fillon has presented himself as the embodiment of “truth, freedom and french values”, sustained by the “feeling of revolution” and “hopes” of millions of French people.

A social conservative and free marketeer who wants to cut half a million public sector jobs, Fillon is reportedly the pollster’s favourite to win next May.

He was prime minister from 2007 to 2012 under President Nicolas Sarkozy, a leader he is said to have endured more than admired.

Behind a mild, refined demeanour, the 62-year-old says he will slash the cost of government.

An admirer of late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, he will go into battle against an increasingly popular far-right, led by Marine Le Pen, and against the undivided left of unpopular President, Francois Hollande.

  • Married to the Welsh-born Penelope
  • Father of five children
  • Youngest member of the French parliament when he was elected 35 years ago

Francois Fillon lives in a 12th century Loire valley chateau https://t.co/BOmkmu7cqvpic.twitter.com/LSQvuTWH6C

— zerohedge (@zerohedge) November 27, 2016

'I will defend France's values': Fillon convincingly beats Juppe in center-right primaries https://t.co/sMSDFXFxkx

— Voice of Europe (@V_of_Europe) November 28, 2016

Retirement age

As a minister in 2003, Fillon stood down big street protests when he championed reforms extending the age at which people are entitled to retirement pension schemes.

This time, he promises that raising the retirement age to 65 and ending early pension rights for many in the state sector will be one of his first measures if he wins power next May.

“Radical” free market reform

His proposal of free market reform, more hard-hitting than that of the man he beat in Sunday’s primary vote, Alain Juppe, is seen as radical.

France is a country where the dirigiste state is a staple across the political spectrum.

Public sector

Fillon has said he will get rid of 500,000 public sector jobs in five years and abolish the 35-hour week.

He says he will put the public sector back on a 39 hour week and has added that the 39 hours do not need to be fully compensated by pay rises.

Civil rights

Born in the Sarthe region 200 kilometres west of Paris and a heartland of traditional France, Fillon has also distinguished himself by seeking to curb the adoption rights of gay couples.

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He says he is personally opposed to gay marriage but will not repeal a 2014 law legalising it in France.

He is also personally opposed to abortion but, again, will not change the current law.

Warmer relations with Russia

Fillon has also raised eyebrows by espousing warmer ties with Russia than Francois Hollande has pursued.

He says Russian President Vladimir Putin is no threat to the West and should be a partner rather than a rival in the foreign intervention in Syria.

He has also said European sanctions against Russia imposed after its annexation of Crimea should be lifted.

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