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France 2017
Fillon Says He’s in It to Win It

France’s embattled conservative presidential contender, Francois Fillon, says that he will be staying in the race till the bitter end, bucking calls to drop out over a nepotism scandal which has seen his poll numbers plummet. Reuters:

Conservative French presidential candidate Francois Fillon said on Friday he would stay in the race come what may, after saying for weeks that he would step down if he were put under formal investigation over his wife’s employment. […]

Fillon told daily Le Figaro he had wanted the justice system to work quickly during the campaign, but that the court is continuing the investigation and that it would be scandalous to deprive the right and center of a candidate.

“My decision is clear: I am a candidate and I will continue until victory,” he told Le Figaro in an interview.

As we noted last week, Fillon’s apparently stubborn decision to stay in the race is far from illogical. There is no easy mechanism to replace him as his party’s candidate, and the contours of the race have shifted so many times already that the public could come back around on the former frontrunner.

Fillon appears to be making some adjustments to reboot his campaign, placing a renewed emphasis on security and making overtures to quell the rebellion within his party. It remains to be seen whether such gestures will pay off. He recently paid a visit to former President Nikolas Sarkozy for advice and support, for instance, but after a bruising primary battle where Fillon trounced his former boss, reports of the closed-doors meeting suggest that Sarkozy will only publicly back Fillon on the condition that he appoint a Sarkozy loyalist to the campaign.

Fillon still has a shot at the big prize, but it is a steep climb. Marine Le Pen has lately been rising in the polls, while Emmanuel Macron, the independent candidate who has most benefitted from Fillon’s woes, remains popular despite recent controversies, including a recent spat over France’s colonial past in Algeria that has alienated many on the right. The next few weeks should give a good indication of whether Fillon can capitalize on such controversies and turn his ship around, or whether clinging on at this stage is an exercise in futility.

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  • WigWag

    Not knowing much about French politics, if Le Pen makes it to the second round, which opponent would she prefer, Macron or Fillon? To put it another way, in the second round, are Fillon voters more likely to vote for Macron or are Macron voters more likely to vote for Fillon. My guess is that Macron would be an easier opponent for Le Pen but I wonder whether that’s the best guess.

    Also, which candidate is helped the most by the recent French riots?

    • Angel Martin

      Macron vs LePen is a straight pro vs anti EU vote.

      Fillon muddies the waters on the EU, although his history is crystal clear that he is a globalist EU lackey.

      Current polling suggests Fillon would be easier to beat, but I would rather run against Macron and make him defend every and all EU stupidities.,_2017#February_2017

    • ljgude

      For what it is worth a few weeks ago I read, I believe here at AI, that Macron was favored to take the second round against Le Pen because the entire left and centre would back him against Le Pen. I believe that a vote for Le Pen is also a vote for a Frexit referendum. Like you, I have little idea of French politics or how convincingly Le Pen offers policy alternatives to the ruling elites. I am pretty srue the dynamics are very different than what brought Donald Trump to power.

  • Disappeared4x

    One day later, more from Reuters “…About two-thirds of French voters wish that conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon withdraws his bid after allegations his wife was paid for a fake job, according to an Ifop poll for Journal du Dimanche newspaper …”
    Sat Feb 18, 2017 | 6:04pm EST

  • Pete

    It might impress voters if this guy Fillon gave back all the money his wife and kiddies took from their no-show government jobs.

    A gesture like that could win the election for him.

  • PierrePendre

    Fillon has one edge that he can assert over both Macron and Le Pen which is that he can hope to win a parliamentary majority and offer a stable, unified government. Neither Macron nor Le Pen will have a majority in the next National Assembly, Macron because he does not have an established party of his own and Le Pen because the electoral system is rigged against her National Front.

    Macron as president would have to cobble up a coalition of centrists from the Republicans on the right and the Socialists on the Left and whatever other odds and sods he can find to make up a majority to support his government and he might not make the numbers. Le Pen would probably find it impossible to construct a governing coalition at all.

    The Gaullist constitution invests vast powers in the presidency when the president has a majority in parliament. When he does not, much of his power leaches away to the prime minister as both Mitterrand and Chirac discovered.

    The French will be mindful of these considerations when they vote in the presidential election which comes first. Fillon has done nothing illegal – that has been proved so far – and if the expectation is that his Republicans may be the largest party after the subsequent National Assembly elections, voters may give him the nod even if it means holding their noses.

    Macron would also have to allay any suspicion that he is really a Trojan horse with the mission to let the Socialists slip back into power by the back door. Strenuous efforts will be made to tar him heartily with that brush after five years of demonstrable Socialist mismanagement which has culminated into their president being driven from office.

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