- Title: France's Fillon hopes to defy scandal to become president
- Date: 10th April 2017
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (APRIL 9, 2017) (REUTERS) SUPPORTERS AT RALLY
- Embargoed: 24th April 2017 11:50
- Keywords: France election Fillon presidential scandal Penelope wife
- Location: PARIS, NICE, TOURCOING, BIARRITZ, STRASBOURG, COURBEVOIE AND AT SEA, FRANCE
- City: PARIS, NICE, TOURCOING, BIARRITZ, STRASBOURG, COURBEVOIE AND AT SEA, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA00G6BTG4LJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL THAT WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3
Francois Fillon seemed to be on course to be France's next president after a resounding victory in his conservative party's primaries until media allegations that he fraudulently employed his wife as his assistant using public money derailed his campaign and left him trailing in the polls.
After five years spent as prime minister in the shadows of energetic ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, Fillon beat the favourite Alain Juppe to win his party's presidential nomination with a sober demeanour and a manifesto promising to cut the public sector and free up the labour market.
But in January a report in satirical newspaper "Le Canard Enchaine" alleging that his wife had been fraudulently paid hundreds of thousands of euros of public money to be his assistant shattered his image of propriety and sent his poll ratings tumbling.
An official investigation was opened but Fillon strongly denies wrongdoing and has himself made allegations of an establishment stitch-up.
Key figures in the party demurred but without an obvious alternative finally rallied round Fillon who has campaigned on but now languishes in third -- or even fourth -- place in the polls, a position that would see him eliminated in the first round on April 23.
But polls show that unlike key rival Emmanuel Macron his electors are committed in their choice and with four candidates contesting a place in the second round there's all to play for.
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