Francois Fillon wins French conservative primary
28 November 2016 – Former Prime Minister Francois Fillon has taken a big lead in the primary race for becoming the French right’s presidential candidate, who later also declared himself as the victor.
Early results from 9,193 of 10,229 polling stations yesterday showed Fillon leading with 67 percent votes and Alain Juppe in second place with 33 percent votes.
Fillon gave a victory speech soon after it became clear he had taken an unassailable lead. “What unites us is far more important than what differentiates us,” he said.
He also saluted his opponent Juppe and former President Nicolas Sarkozy for backing him, and called President Francois Hollande’s five year in office as “pathetic”.
“France wants the truth and France wants action,” he said, adding: “Conservative voters have found in my campaign the values that are dear to them. I will defend those values, and we will share them with everyone that loves France.”
“I must now convince the whole country our project is the only one that can lift us up.”
He concluded by saying he wanted “a complete change in software” for France.
Fillon, as winner of the Les Republicains run-off, will compete in next year’s presidential election, where he could face the leader of the far-right Front National party Marine Le Pen.
Juppe, 71, who campaigned for a French “happy identity”, conceded defeat and wished his rival “good luck” in his campaign to become France’s next leader in elections next year.
“I finish this campaign as I began it, as a free man who did not compromise what he is or what he thinks,” he said.
Fillon, 62, was the winner of the first round last weekend as well. Currently, a Paris lawmaker, he served as prime minister under former President Nicolas Sarkozy from 2007 to 2012. He is a social conservative and Catholic who voted against same-sex marriage when it was introduced by Socialist President Francois Hollande.
During his campaign, Fillon, an admirer of late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, presented the most radical pro-business reform program — vowing to cut a staggering 500,000 public sector jobs over five years.
In ministerial jobs under Jacques Chirac, he built a reputation as a compromise-seeker when dealing with unions. Fillon told the Financial Times recently he was determined to drop the soft approach after fully grasping the fragility of France’s finances.
The second round of the primary was open to all registered on the electoral roll and voters casted ballots for a €2 ($2.12) fee after signing a charter of values “to share the republican values of the right and center”.