- Title: Fillon, surprise frontrunner in France's presidential race
- Date: 21st November 2016
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (NOVEMBER 21, 2016) (REUTERS) ****WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** VARIOUS OF CANDIDATE IN FRENCH RIGHT-CENTER PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES, FRANCOIS FILLON, SURROUNDED BY MEDIA STREET NUMBER FILLON SPOKESMAN, JEROME CHARTIER, ARRIVING (SOUNDBITE) (French) SPOKESMAN FOR FRANCOIS FILLON, JEROME CHARTIER, SAYING: "Fundamentally, Francois Fillon's essence is going out and meeting the French, he's been doing that for the past three years, he'll carry on doing that this week and won't change his habits. He will be the Francois Fillon that the French now know much better - I'd even say very well - and in fact it will be both a long but at the same time, a short week." FILLON SUPPORTER AND FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE FRENCH NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BERNARD ACCOYER ARRIVING FILLON SUPPORTER AND SENATOR BRUNO RETAILLEAU ARRIVING
- Embargoed: 6th December 2016 11:56
- Keywords: election Francois Fillon conservative Les Republicains primary presidential race
- Location: PARIS, FRANCE
- City: PARIS, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA00159E15JB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: France's Francois Fillon, surprise frontrunner after Sunday's (November 21) conservative primary ballot on a contender for next year's presidential election, could be the closest thing his country has to a true economic and social conservative.
Behind his still-boyish looks and a mild, refined demeanor, the 62-year-old who has spent almost half of his life in politics wants to slash the cost of government - to a large extent by cutting public service jobs.
An admirer of late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher - not at all a popular figure in France - Fillon stood down big street protests in 2003 when he championed reforms extending the age at which people are entitled to retirement pension payments.
Last week, when opinion polls ranked him as an outsider, his proposal of market-oriented reforms went beyond what his rivals preferred in a country where the dirigiste state remains, even on the center-right, a staple - unlike conservative and liberal positions in the United States or Britain.
Having won over 44 percent of the first-round vote according to preliminary results, Fillon now enters a run-off next Sunday (November 27) against Alain Juppe, who garnered less than 30 percent.
A Sunday night opinion poll after the first round vote said Fillon would win that contest.
"Fundamentally, Francois Fillon's essence is going out and meeting the French, he's been doing that for the past three years, he'll carry on doing that this week and won't change his habits. He will be the Francois Fillon that the French now know much better - I'd even say very well - and in fact it will be both a long but at the same time, a short week," said Fillon's spokesman Jerome Chartier on Monday (November 21).
Born in the Sarthe region some 200 km west of Paris, where secular France's Roman Catholic roots remain strong, Fillon has also distinguished himself by opposing the adoption of children by gay couples.
He is married to the Welsh-born Penelope and they have five children. He was the youngest member of France's parliament when he was first elected 35 years ago.
Fillon 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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