In the 1st round of the French presidential primaries, Prime Minister François Fillon came in #1, with 44% of the vote. Mr. Fillon not only outdistanced the favored former Prime Minister Alain Juppé, but also handily beat his former boss, Nicolas Sarkozy, who finished a distant third.
In a runoff, Mr. Fillon defeated the “more centrist and flexible” Mr. Juppé. Fillon now will most likely face off against both the socialist candidate and Marine Le Pen, leader of the extreme right-wing National Front. Fillon and Le Pen differ in their views in many fundamental respects, but the “combined weight of Fillon and Le Pen will shift the next five years of French politics considerably to the right,” writes Robert Zaretsky in Real Clear World.
François Fillon, a devout Catholic, is committed to the dogma of the Church as well as to the free market, notes Mr. Zaretsky.
Both critics and colleagues have compared him to Margaret Thatcher in his goal of reducing the size of the state bureaucracy and freeing employers from the constraints placed on them by socialist governments. He intends to bury the 35-hour workweek — replacing it with the 39-hour week to which employers can add nine hours of overtime — as well as loosen the laws that govern the hiring and firing of employees. In addition, he vows the elimination, between 2017 and 2022, of 500,000 positions from the state bureaucracy — a campaign promise that eclipsed even Sarkozy’s goal of 350,000 eliminated positions. Quite simply, as the centrist magazine L’Express noted, Fillon promises blood and tears.