Fran­ce’s Fil­lon wins top spot in con­ser­va­ti­ve pri­ma­ry

Times of Suriname - - ENGELS -

FRAN­CE - French vo­ters de­fied ex­pecta­ti­ons last week­end by thro­wing ex-pre­si­dent Ni­co­las Sar­ko­zy out of the ra­ce to be the con­ser­va­ti­ves’ no­mi­nee for the pre­si­den­ti­al elec­ti­on and pro­pel­ling his ex­pri­me mi­nis­ter Fran­cois Fil­lon to top spot.

A so­ci­al con­ser­va­ti­ve with eco­no­mi­cally li­be­ral ide­as, Fil­lon will fa­ce Alain Jup­pe, ano­ther ex-pri­me mi­nis­ter, in a runoff on Nov. 27 which is li­ke­ly to pro­du­ce Fran­ce’s next pre­si­dent in May. Long trai­ling his ri­vals in opi­ni­on polls, Fil­lon goes in­to the con­ser­va­ti­ve pri­ma­ries’ runoff with a strong lead, the bac­king of de­fea­ted can­di­da­tes in­clu­ding Sar­ko­zy and a fresh poll that al­rea­dy tips him to win that se­cond round. “I’m tel­ling all the French, no mat­ter who they vo­t­ed for, that chan­ge is on its way to lift Fran­ce up,” Fil­lon, an ad­mi­rer of la­te Bri­tish pri­me Mi­nis­ter Mar­ga­ret That­cher, told sup­por­ters. “My fel­low Fren­ch­men ha­ve told me, eve­ry­whe­re, they want to break away from a bu­reau­cra­tic sy­s­tem which saps their ener­gy; eve­ry­whe­re they told me their desi­re for aut­ho­ri­ty,” said 62-year-old Fil­lon, who is a ra­re eco­no­mic li­be­ral in lar­ge­ly sta­tist Fran­ce. Jup­pe, a mo­de­ra­te 71-year-old con­ser­va­ti­ve cam­paig­ning on an in­clu­si­ve, “hap­py iden­ti­ty” plat­form, had for months been ahead in polls for both the pri­ma­ries and the pre­si­den­ti­al elec­ti­on. But he strug­gled to fire up vo­ters as the elec­ti­on ne­a­red and see­ms to ha­ve suf­fe­red from con­stant at­tacks by Sar­ko­zy calling him soft and bran­ding him as being “host­a­ge” to cen­trist al­lies. On­ce Fil­lon, long con­si­de­red a po­li­ti­cal has-been, saw his ra­tings im­pro­ve just over a week ago af­ter good per­for­man­ces in te­le­vi­sed de­ba­tes, Jup­pe lost so­me of the “an­ti-Sar­ko­zy” tac­ti­cal vo­te to him.

Soun­ding down­cast la­te on Sun­day, Jup­pe told sup­por­ters he would “car­ry on figh­ting” and bil­led himself as the best op­ti­on to de­feat far-right par­ty lea­der Ma­ri­ne Le Pen, whom polls pre­dict will ma­ke it to the se­cond round of the pre­si­den­ti­al elec­ti­ons. With the Left very di­vi­ded and a ma­jo­ri­ty of vo­ters tel­ling poll­sters they are op­po­sed to see­ing the far-right Na­ti­o­nal Front in po­wer, the cho­sen cen­ter-right no­mi­nee is li­ke­ly to de­feat Le Pen in an ex­pec­ted elec­ti­on run-off next May. But whi­le polls ha­ve con­sis­tent­ly shown Jup­pe would ea­si­ly beat Le Pen, the­re are far fe­wer sur­veys on how Fil­lon would fa­re in such a match, in fur­ther evi­den­ce of how un­ex­pec­ted his top spot was. (Reu­

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