Sarkozy is out. In France, the return to the throne is a mission impossible. Fillon is the favorite for the Elysee Palace but the chances for Marine Le Pen increase.
Written by Ivo Christov; Originally appeared at A-specto, translated by Valentina Tzoneva exclusively for SouthFront
The results are known. Francois Fillon convincingly won the first round of primaries for presidential candidate of the right wing in France with 44.2%. Alain Zhyupe goes to the second round with 28.4%. Former President, Nicolas Sarkozy, dropped by a modest 20.7% of the vote. The outcome of the race is almost a foregone conclusion, given the appeal of Sarkozy to his supporters to support the favorite Fillon.
For the duration of six months, the pollsters were predicting a runoff between Sarkozy and Zhyupe. The cameras followed the former president at the heels, who was igniting the crowds by promising a tough line against Islamist contagion in the suburbs. “No integration but assimilation,” Sarkozy proclaimed and his words evoked applause.
“The burkas have no place in our society and we must end the racket by the small communities,” “le petit Nicolas” cut off to ecstatic audiences and the media gradually believed in his potential return. Meanwhile, the nondescript Fillon dropped the prophetic phrase: “the French are killing the kings.” Fact: in the Fifth Republic, a former president never returns to the throne of the “republican monarchy”. Once deposed off, the French leaders have no future. The media and the investigators are the new guillotine. Yesterday it cut off the head of Sarkozy. The snap-shots of a year ago of the unshaven former president exiting an investigation after many hours of interrogation compromised his hopes of returning to the Elysee Palace. Sarkozy launched into the race with his characteristic energy, capturing the public’s expectations and went on to conquer the terrain of the far right. But he forgot his neck. Until yesterday, he remained the most prominent figure on the French political scene. But politics is not just a scene.
The winner, Francois Fillon, was a mediocre actor but a meticulous administrator. In the elections, he bet on a solid right program in the spirit of Thatcher which provides redundancy in the administration, increased working hours for clerks, simplified procedure in job losses for business. Fillon promises 100 billion in savings in the budget for a period of five years, hoping to stem the debt of the French Treasury. The former Prime Minister envisages changes in the law allowing the deprivation of French nationality of persons, holding dual citizenship found guilty of terrorism. Fillon plans to build new prisons with a capacity of 16 000 seats.
In foreign policy plans, the candidate of the right wing is close to Vladimir Putin. The Russian president seems to be the big winner on the course of the presidential race in France, because it is very likely that the runoff in May will end up with his two favorites: Francois Fillon and Marine Le Pen.
The breakthrough of Fillon, however, complicates the internal political intrigue in France. Unlike Sarkozy, despite his hard program, he has no charisma and strong leadership skills and can hardly be relied upon to seceede a part of the electorate of the National Front. As a devotee of austerity, it will be hard to capitalize the votes of the Socialists at a possible runoff. As a result, the chances for Marine Le Pen to enter the Elysee Palace grow. Paradoxically, the Islamists who do not hide their desire to throw France into civil turmoil, are also interested in the victory of the candidate of the National Front, which will radicalize the six-million Muslim community in France. It is therefore very likely that in the coming months before the elections in May 2017, terrorists will launch new strikes on French territory in order to escalate the political debate and move the focus from economy to identity and security, from which Fillon can only lose.