François Fillon, known by some as the “French Thatcherite”, will be the mainstream conservative candidate in Frances Presidential election next year.
The race has been watched closely, as the candidate is expected to face the populist far-right leader of Front National, Marine Le Pen, after populist campaigns have delivered electoral shocks in the US and the UK. A socialist candidate is also expected to run.
Fillon, a relative outsider when the race to pick the Republican candidate began, swept to victory over Alain Juppé, the early favourite. Another candidate, the former President, Nicolas Sarkozy, was eliminated in the first round.
The victory of Fillon means the Republicans will put up a social conservative, a man who voted against same-sex marriage. He is also an economic reformist, who wants to push back the retirement age and scrap the wealth tax. He is on good terms with Vladimir Putin.
After winning roughly 66.6 per per cent of the vote, compared to Juppé’s 33.4 per cent, Fillon pledged to “change” France’s “software”.
Although Republicans have picked a candidate to the right of their party, and Le Pen has softened her party’s tone in recent years, key dividing lines remain. Fillon is critical of the EU, but believes France should reform it from within, whereas Le Pen has demanded a Frexit.
Fillon has also shown impatience with the UK, saying Brexit should be “fast” and there should be no financial passports for Britain’s banks.