In Brief

French elections: Francois Fillon wins conservative primary

Centre-right candidate expected to face National Front leader Marine Le Pen in next year's presidential campaign

France's former prime minister Francois Fillon is to be the conservative candidate in next year's presidential election after winning his party's primary race.

Fillon, running as a centre-right candidate, defeated Alain Juppe, another ex-prime minister, who conceded within hours of the polls closing, having secured only 33 per cent of the vote.

"Victory is mine. It is a substantive victory built on belief," said Fillon.

The win is a "stunning victory for the candidate once seen as the 'third man' in the contest", says the BBC.

The Guardian reports Fillon's campaign gathered momentum in the days leading up to the vote, after he wrote a book on the "dangers of 'Islamic totalitarianism' in the wake of recent terrorist attacks in France".

Fillon, who was prime minister from 2007 to 2012 under Nicolas Sarkozy, is expected to face far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen in the presidential election next April. 

Polls suggest Le Pen will make it through to the final round, but "it would be difficult for her to win", The Guardian says.

The prospect of a run-off between Le Pen and Fillon marks a major shift in French politics away from the left, says CNN.

It adds: "Voters are widely expected to boot out the Socialist Party that has ruled France since 2012 under the leadership of President Francois Hollande, whose popularity is waning."

Fillon said: "The left has failed and the far-right means bankruptcy", adding: "My job is to rise to the challenge of changing France and changing its software."

Infographic by www.statista.com for TheWeek.co.uk.

Nicolas Sarkozy out of France's presidential race

21 November

France's former president Nicolas Sarkozy has been knocked out of the Republican party primary after polling third behind ex-prime ministers Francois Fillon and Alain Juppe in the battle to be presidential candidate for the centre-right group.

More than 2.5 million people voted in the first round of the race and with most of the ballots counted, Fillon led with 44.1 per cent, followed by Juppe with 28.3 per cent and Sarkozy in third place with 20.9 per cent.

"I have no bitterness, I have no sadness and I wish the best for my country," said the politician.

Sarkozy failed to win the nomination because of his "enduringly unpopular personality after five years in power," The Guardian says.

It adds: "A very large majority of French voters on both the left and right clearly didn't want to see him in power again."

Fillon and Juppe will compete in a run-off election on Sunday. 

Fillon is regarded as an Anglophile and the most pro-business of the candidates. "I'm tagged with a liberal label as one would once, in the Middle Ages, paint crosses on the doors of lepers," he has said.

The winner is expected to compete against National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who has enjoyed a surge in the polls, says The Independent, adding to "growing fears that the rise of global populism could see Ms Le Pen secure a surprise victory in the wake of the UK's Brexit vote and Donald Trump's US election win".

Infographic by www.statista.com for TheWeek.co.uk.

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