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France 2017
Fillon Defeats French Favorite

François Fillon upset Alain Juppé in a surprise victory yesterday, setting himself up as the favorite to become France’s next President. More from the FT:

Partial results from 9,795 of 10,228 polling stations show Mr Fillon attracted 66.6 per cent of the vote in the primary run-off, against Alain Juppé, who secured 33.4 per cent of the vote.

The former prime minister’s victory reveals a clear shift to the right among Republican party sympathisers, who seek a return to the right-wing tenets of law and order, and a break from past economic policies with a resolutely free market economic programme.

About 4.5m voters turned out for the final round of the centre-right primary, the first being organised in France, to pick their candidate for presidential elections next year.

“For three years, I have campaigned on my values,” Mr Fillon said on Sunday evening. “France doesn’t accept its fall, France wants freedom and action. The left is leading us to failure. The extreme right leads us to bankruptcy.”

Fillon promises to serve up a cocktail composed of law-and-order policy, support for traditional French values and identity, some tougher immigration policies, and a dash of Thatcherite economics—at least to the extent of pruning back the state.

With socialist President Hollande at 4 percent in the polls and contenders like Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Emmanuel Macron struggling to gain major traction, chances are that Fillon will face Marine Le Pen in the next presidential election. It’s by no means a sure shot that he’ll win; his reputation for Thatcherite thinking may not be an asset in a national campaign. But his hard-right positions set him up well to persuade voters who might have been attracted to Le Pen if she’d been facing a more centrist candidate.

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  • Beauceron

    I read Fillon stated he plans to cut 500,000 government jobs.
    The French will be rioting in the streets.

    • Kevin

      Perhaps, quite a bit of this can be accomplished through attrition. But yes, his plan overall (increased retirement age, reduced government spending, reduced labor regulations, etc.) will certainly provoke riots. The question is whether he will push through or back down like previous conservative governments. If he backs down he is finished as it will ensure continued sclerosis and decline opening the door to left or right extremists.

    • CapitalHawk

      Nah. They won’t be able to get to the streets to riot because the farmers will have already taken up all the space with their $1 million tractors in order to protest his proposed 1% cut to farm subsidies in 10 years.

      • Curious Mayhem

        Nice tractor work, if you can get it 🙂

  • http://www.librarything.com/profile/Bretzky1 Brett Champion

    I don’t think the situation for Le Pen can get any better. Fillon is the most beatable of the three. If she doesn’t win this year, then it’s all over for the National Front.

    • Kevin

      Hardly.

      More of the same from the governing elites will gradually make the National Front seem a more palatable option. Fillon might change that dynamic (assuming he doesn’t go native like Sarkozy did when he was elected 10 years ago); no one else on the horizon in French politics seems likely to do so.

    • Beauceron

      I don’t know. Fillon, in many of his policies, seems to be stealing from Le Pen’s more moderate playbook.

  • Angel Martin
  • Andrew Allison

    Seems as though the voters sent a rather clear (2:1) signal that they want a viable alternative to Le Pen. She could well have beaten a more centrist candidate. Either way, France is moving right.

  • Anthony

    “Contagion is a well understood process in finance. A shock in one place produces tremors elsewhere, even when there are no direct financial links, because pattern-seeking market participants perceive fundamental factors at work. Today’s so-called populist revolt (around globe but especially in West) is exhibiting a similar dynamic.” So, does the liberal world order succumb to the alternative model of quasi authoritarianism or can the affected West (specially) fine a “third way” (that precludes closing off borders, trade restrictions, constraining capital flows, blood and soil appeals) in an interconnected globalized environment that has characterized the last 70 years?

    Regarding France’s election, “French voters must support a person of authority, wisdom, and experience, who is willing and able to undertake urgently needed reforms without exacerbating social divisions….” (Dominique Moisi)

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