Parisians react to Fillon’s suprise breakthrough in primaries

Parisians are surprised that socially conservative, pro-business candidate Francois Fillon emerged with the highest score in the first round of primaries for the centre-right’s presidential ticket.

PARIS, FRANCE (NOVEMBER 21, 2016) (REUTERS) – Parisians took stock on Monday morning (November 21) of the stunning victory by former prime minister Francois Fillon in the first-round of primaries that will determine the conservative presidential ticket.

Fillon finished with only six points short of the 50-percent threshold needed in the first round, and ousted ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy from the race.

Another ex-prime minister, Alain Juppe, garnered less than 30 percent.

“I was surprised to see so many people turn out for Fillon when I thought that it would be a fight between Sarkozy and Juppe…But I think that in the end people need change and that’s what happened yesterday,” a Parisian, Amelie, said.

Any French voter can take part in the run-off next Sunday (November 20), and the views of pollsters and commentators have been much confounded in popular votes worldwide this year – not least Sunday’s (November 20) vote in which Fillon did far better than expected.

“It’s a surprise but at the same time it isn’t one because I think there was a real need for change – we saw that in the United States and there’s maybe an impact in France – so it’s not a bad thing, a bit of change,” another Paris resident, David, said.

“I think it’s more of a penalty vote against the third person, Nicolas Sarkozy,” Parisian Olivier said.

With his socially conservative and liberal, pro-business platform, Fillon lacks the broad appeal of the more centrist Juppe.

Fillon’s proposals for market-oriented reforms – including scrapping the 35-hour working week and raising the retirement age – go beyond what his challenger advocates for a country where the state remains a powerful force in the economy, even for the centre-right.

“His (Fillon’s) discourse is very much on the right as well. Juppe, who was my candidate was more uniting, more in the centre. Fillon, although he is quite liberal, on a social level, it’s not a step-backwards but it’s different,” Luc, also a Parisian, said.

A snap poll by Opinionway showed Fillon winning next Sunday’s head-to-head contest against Juppe with 56 percent of support.