Sarkozy knocked out of French presidential race
FORMER French president Nicolas Sarkozy crashed out of the presidential election, suffering a humiliating defeat in the first round of the rightwing primary.
Mr Sarkozy was beaten into third place after a stunning upset by Francois Fillon, who served as his prime minister, with the veteran Alain Juppe finishing second.
The surprise result puts Mr Fillon in a commanding position for the second round of the contest on November 27 that is widely expected to decide France’s next leader.
With the French leftwing in disarray, the rightwing candidate is tipped to face – and beat – far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the presidential runoff next May.
But after a wave of populism saw British voters choose to leave the European Union and swept Donald Trump to the White House, no one is writing off Ms Le Pen’s chances.
In a major upset, Mr Fillon, a probusiness conservative, took more than 44 percent of the vote compared to around 28pc for Mr Juppe, a former prime minister.
Mr Sarkozy’s hopes of winning back the presidency were crushed as he scored just 21pc.
Mr Fillon, 62, pulled off a remarkable come-from-behind victory in the first round after trailing Mr Sarkozy and Mr Juppe in all but the final days of the two-month campaign.
Voters appear to have warmed to Mr Fillon’s understated style over the brashness of 61-year-old Mr Sarkozy, who still deeply divides the country four years after being turfed out by the Socialist Francois Hollande.
Mr Juppe, 71, was the early frontrunner but Mr Fillon made stunning progress thanks largely to strong performances in televised debates.
In a final TV debate among the seven candidates, Mr Sarkozy angrily ducked a question about fresh claims that he received millions in funding from the late Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi toward his 2007 campaign.
The case is one of several investigations to dog Mr Sarkozy since he left office.
Mr Juppe and Mr Fillon have broadly similar programs, underpinned by pledges to reinforce domestic security in a country still under a state of emergency following jihadist attacks that killed more than 230 people. –