- Title: Fillon scores huge win in French conservative presidential primaries
- Date: 27th November 2016
- Summary: VARIOUS OF FILLON ACKNOWLEDGING CROWD FILLON LEAVING / CROWS SINGING FRENCH NATIONAL ANTHEM "LA MARSEILLAISE"
- Embargoed: 12th December 2016 21:17
- Keywords: Francois Fillon Alain Juppe presidential primary Les Republicains conservative right-wing centrist
- Location: PARIS, FRANCE
- City: PARIS, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Reuters ID: LVA0025A7YXC7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Francois Fillon, a social conservative and free-marketeer who has France's public sector in his sights, won France's conservative party primary on Sunday (November 27) and will now contest next spring's presidential election.
With votes from four-fifths of 10,228 polling stations counted, Fillon, who went into the second-round run-off as firm favourite, had won over 67 percent of the vote in a head-to-head battle with another ex-prime minister, Alain Juppe.
"Victory is mine and it's a substantial victory built on convictions," Fillon told a crowd of delighted supporters in Paris.
"Increasingly I have felt this wave build up which has smashed all the preconceived scenarios. My approach was understood. France will not put up with its failure. France wants the truth, and it wants action," he said.
Fillon, 62, came from behind in opinion polls over the past two weeks.
In last week's first round Les Republicains party primary he knocked out former president Nicolas Sarkozy, under whom he served as prime minister from 2007 to 2012, and pushed Juppe into second place.
"Now my duty is to convince a whole country that our manifesto is the only one that can pull us back up, in employment, for growth, for justice, to beat these fanatics who've declared war on us. My duty is to give confidence back to French men and women," he said.
All eyes now turn to the ruling Socialist party and to whether the deeply unpopular President Francois Hollande will decide to run for the left-wing ticket in his party's primaries in January, amid signs that his prime minister, Manuel Valls, is considering a bid of his own.
France, the euro zone's second largest economy, has faced stubbornly high unemployment under Hollande, and the past two years of his term have been marked by Islamist militant attacks that have killed 230 people and focused attention on immigration and security concerns too.
Opinion polls suggest neither he nor any left-wing candidate would make the second round of the presidential election itself next May, leaving Fillon a clear run at the anti-EU, anti-immigration National Front leader Le Pen that the surveys predict him to win.
"I have the duty to beat the resistance to change and demagogy. The left means failure, the far right means bankruptcy, I'm talking about beating these political parties, not beating those disappointed French people, those voters who aren't ours today but who it's now my job to lead towards the future," Fillon said.
Fillon outflanked Juppe and Sarkozy after a campaign in which Juppe emerged looking soft and pandering to the left, and Sarkozy's rhetoric steered too close to extremism for some.
Enthusiastic for free-market principles in a country where state interference is the norm for governments of all political hues, Fillon is a rare fan of the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
He is from France's conservative Catholic right, has misgivings about gay marriage, and believes immigrants should assimilate to French cultural values.
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