François Fillon: A Thatcherite in the Elysée Palace?

Article published on Nov. 22, 2016
Article published on Nov. 22, 2016

Much to the country's surprise, François Fillon came out well ahead of the game during France's conservative primaries, sending Nicolas Sarkozy back into political retirement. Will Fillon be France's next president? Europe is already preparing itself for a liberal politician with strong hints of thatcherism. 

France's reactionary revolution - Libération, France

The most conservative candidate has won out, Libération writes in dismay:

"Many voters wanted to get rid of the former president [Sarkozy], who they saw as too far to the right. But they could do nothing to counter the mobilisation of the conservative right wing. Now they have an even more reactionary candidate. In this way the grouchy smurf of conservatism has become the most likely candidate... Bonjour tristesse... That goes for both the economic and social measures, because François Fillon has taken the liberal rupture a step further, determined as he is to demolish a good part of our post-war heritage bequeathed to us by [de Gaulle's] National Council of the Resistance. A strange denial for this former socially-minded Gaullist who has now styled himself as the Iron Gentleman of the French-style conservative revolution." (22/11/16)

Merkel should learn from Fillon's strategy - Tagesschau, Germany

François Fillon's strategy of securing the support of conservative voters could also be interesting for Angela Merkel when she seeks her fourth term as chancellor in 2017, tagesschau.de believes:

"As a candidate he clearly spoke up for the so-called conservative values without eyeing either the left or the centre, positioning himself as the conservative candidate. And his bet paid off. Fillon wants to 'make France great again' - but not by insulting minorities or vilifying his opponents. He is relying on an very harsh austerity policy, an extremely slimmed-down state, tax cuts for businesses, the 39-hour week for civil servants, et cetera. All of that goes down well with those for whom the welfare state is a plague and who believe that after the leaden Hollande presidency France can only get back on its feet with thoroughgoing reforms." (22/11/16)

Voters may feel threatened - Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Switzerland 

Although voters would have a real choice with François Fillon as presidential candidate he stands little chance of winning the conservative primaries, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung believes:

"Many will view the cost-cutting measures he proposes as a threat: axing 500,000 public sector jobs, cutting social services, getting rid of the 35-hour week. In return he wants to revitalise the economy and reduce unemployment. The question is whether such a programme can achieve a majority not just in the French preliminaries but also in elections. Every citizen is wondering: Should I vote for Fillon if it means putting my own civil service job or that of a family member at risk? ...Fillon stands for so-called Catholic values, he holds up the family as the nucleus of social life. Le Pen and her Front National openly champion an extreme form of nationalism in which immigrants - in particular Muslims - have no place. But they don't threaten voters with job cuts in the civil service." (22/11/2016)

Fillon can beat Le Pen - Upsala Nya Tidning, Sweden

Fillon's eliminating Sarkozy from the race bodes well for election year 2017, Upsala Nya Tidning believes:

"Without France and Germany the Union simply won't work. And in France the leader of the National Front, Marine Le Pen, wants to disband the EU. Both remaining [conservative] candidates could count on votes from the left if one of them runs against Le Pen in the second round of the presidential election... The same would not be true for Sarkozy... There's a lot you can hold against the EU, but without it Europe would return to an era of closed borders, nationalist self-satisfaction, intolerance and the erosion of the rule of law. We as Swedes, who can vote neither in Germany nor in France, have every reason to hope that the democratic parties and politicians can hold their ground against the right-wing populists." (22/11/16)

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