- Title: France’s Fillon jokingly plays up to Thatcher comparison
- Date: 22nd November 2016
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (NOVEMBER 22, 2016) (REUTERS) FRENCH NEWSPAPER "LIBERATION" IN KIOSK STAND, WITH FRONT PAGE SHOWING PHOTOSHOPPED IMAGE MERGING FACE OF FRENCH CENTRE-RIGHT PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY CANDIDATE FOR SECOND ROUND, FRANCOIS FILLON, WITH HAIRSTYLE OF LATE BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, MARGARET THATCHER LIBERATION'S FRONT PAGE WITH IMAGE AND READING (French): "Me, President..." LIBERATION'S FRONT PAGE
- Embargoed: 7th December 2016 14:03
- Keywords: Francois Fillon election voting Margaret Thatcher Alain Juppe
- Location: PARIS, FRANCE
- City: PARIS, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA00159J1YKN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Leading candidate in France's right-centre presidential primaries, Francois Fillon, on Tuesday (November 22) jokingly played up to a comparison made in French newspaper "Liberation" between him and late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
A social conservative with economically liberal ideas who admires Thatcher, Fillon, 62 was portrayed on the front cover of the newspaper in a photoshopped image, merging his face with her trademark hairdo.
The former French prime minister played with his hair when asked by a reporter if he had seen the front page of the newspaper.
"I see very well the many attacks and caricatures. After having called me an ultra-liberal, I am now depicted as a reactionary from the Middle Ages. All this is ultra-grotesque and ultra-ridiculous," Fillon said.
Fillon secured 44 percent of the votes in Sunday's (November 20) first round of voting for the centre-right nomination, with many see him as being in pole position for a showdown with far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the election next spring.
He will face fellow former Prime Minister Alain Juppe in a runoff vote on November 27 for the conservative ticket.
Fillon's plans for market-oriented reforms - including scrapping the 35-hour working week and raising the retirement age - go beyond what his challenger Juppe advocates for a country where the state remains a powerful force in the economy.
French centre-right politician Pierre Lellouche, who was present in a gathering of parliamentarians who Fillon addressed, said France needed a "massive overhaul" of the country's social and economic system.
"The Germans have done it, the British have done it, Italians are doing it, Spaniards have done it. Apparently only in France it's impossible, and anybody that says contrary is caricatured," he told Reuters Television.
Fillon was the youngest member of France's parliament when he was first elected 35 years ago. He argues that his cost-cutting plan is doable if people on the public payroll work 39 hours a week instead of 35 or less currently.
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