Hard-line reformist Francois Fillon scored a resounding win in France’s conservative primaries on Sunday in France’s right-wing nomination process for next year’s presidential election with a resounding victory over his rival Alain Juppe. However, he will now likely face National Front leader Marine Le Pen in a run-off second round this spring.
Polls conducted shortly after Fillion’s victory have him easily defeating Le Pen in the first round of the presidential vote, to be held on April 23rd and suggest that he would easily beat the National Front party leader in the second round runoff vote two weeks later on May 7th. Some polls guess that Fillon would garner some 67 percent of the vote, compared to 33 percent for Le Pen.
However, Le Pen’s current momentum could easily offset these numbers. However, similarly styled polls in the United States had Donald Trump finishing in last place before he picked up a special kind of momentum.
The problem Fillon has is that he is not a populist or nationalist candidate and Le Pen is. He lacks the momentum that she has similar to the election in the United States between Trump and Clinton.
Fillon, a former PM of Nicolas Sarkozy, will likely be attacked by Le Pen as an extension of Sarkozy’s political philosophies of elitism, and the candidate that calls for labor reforms containing formulas that have prompted street protests earlier this year.
Mr. Fillon has already attempted to belatedly make a play for Le Pen’s supporters who want drastic reform in France’s liberal immigration policies. Many pundits in France believe that Fillon’s reaction to Le Pen’s huge success with these themes is not heartfelt and is too little too late.
Le Pen’s strategy likely will be framed as a movement pitting the people versus the elite, a political theme that casts Fillon as a snob and political has-been who espouses old worn out ideas– a platform that worked well for Trump versus the establishment and against Clinton’s decades in the political arena.