An analysis of our partner GFC Net: Shan

(CENTRE & RIGHT PRIMARY) AND THE WINNER IS:

The centre-right voters have finally defied the polls by largely giving the victory to François Fillon with 44% at the first round ahead Alain Juppé (28.6%) and Nicolas Sarkozy (20% and eliminated). At the second round, Mr. Fillon finally outclassed Alain Juppé with 66.5% against 33.5% for the mayor of Bordeaux.This is an undisputed victory for a man, who was considered as the third man (and even the fourth) during months by pollsters, journalists and commentators. He has acquired a decisive surge of support in the very last rounds of the race.Regularly compared to Margaret Tatcher, Fillon is an assumed conservative Catholic who has unveiled the most business-friendly, free-market economic platform during the campaign. He formerly served as Nicolas Sarkozy’s prime minister for five years but has tumultous relationships with his president, who called him his “collaborator”. Discontent, Fillon broke up with Sarkozy in 2012 and started a lonesome quest, firstly he conquers the UMP (currently Les Republicains) party against Jean-François Copé – he failed – and then wins the primary against his ex-mentor Sarkozy and the presumed frontrunner Alain Juppé.
This result is first and foremost the personal failure of Nicolas Sarkozy in his attempt to reconquer the right-wing voters. It marks the end of his political career. He stated, visibly moved: “It’s time for me to live a life with more private passions and fewer public passions. Good luck France.” This end outlines the failure of his far-right strategy based on strong positions about secularity, Islam and immigration.It is also a personal failure for Alain Juppé, who has paid off his age (71 years old) and his alliance with the centrist François Bayrou, who has been considered as a traitor for a large part of the right, since he chose to vote for François Hollande in 2012. Juppé said he will finish his mandate as a mayor of Bordeaux, and is very likely to stop his political carreer afterwards.Last but not least, this was the first primary elections for the center and the right in France’s history and they were a large success with 4.2 million of voters during the first round, and between 4.2 and 4.6 million during the second round. No major irregularity has been noticed. This primary will enable the right-wing to stand united at the 2017 presidential election; at least onto the paper and so far. With a hugely weakened left and Marine Le Pen lurking, the winner of the primary is seen as the likely victor in next year’s election.

WHO IS FRANCOIS FILLON?

Mr Fillon, 62, entered in politics 30 years ago. He was elected MP for the first time in 1981, at the age of 27. Then he started to support Philippe Seguin, a leading figure of the “social right” during the 1980’s and the 1990’s, who said to be a “gaullist” and strong partisan of the French sovereignty. They both campaigned and voted against the Maastricht treaty in 1993. The same year, Fillon was appointed education and research minister in Edouard Balladur’s governement; he was just 40. In 1995, despite his support to Edouard Balladur during the presidential campaign (against Jacques Chirac), he joined Alain Juppé’s government as posts and telecommunications minister, and managed the France Telecom’s privatization (become Orange today). In 1998, he was elected chairman of the region Pays de la Loire and definitely became one of the leading figure of the right. In the wake of the Chirac’s victory to the 2002 presidential election, he was appointed social affairs and employment minister, and conducted a significant pension reform, which has “saved” the Fench pension regime, according to many commentators. In 2005, he was ejected from the governement after Mr. de Villepin was appointed Prime Minister and decided to become the first support of Nicolas Sarkozy. After the 2007 presidential election, Fillon served as Nicolas Sarkozy’s prime minister for five years but had tumultous relationships whith his president, who called him his “collaborator”. Then, he bitterly fought with Jean-François Copé for wining the UMP Party, which was left nearly bankrupt and mired in internal rivalries following Mr Sarkozy’s defeat to socialist presidential candidate François Hollande in 2012. After 30 years of ups and downs, Mr Fillon has started the most important and decisive race of his political career.

In his personal life, Mr Fillon is an alpinist and amateur of driving car races, and is notably a huge fan of the 24-hour sports car race in his home town of Le Mans. He recently drew comparisons between his trajectory and that of Belgian driver Jacky Ickx : “started last but crossed the finish line first” to win the race in 1969. “But we’re several laps ahead”.

Regarding his program, Fillon has developed pro-business proposals, and conservative measures on social values. He said to be strict and full of moral integrity. He is a reawakening of the French traditional right. More specifically on tax issues, he proposes :

  • to decrease the rate of the corporate tax from 33.3% to 25%
  • to decrease the corporate social security taxes by 50 billion euros
  • to raise the VAT of 2% to finance his “competitive shocks
  • to preserve the tax credits on domestic jobs
  • to remove the employees’ health contributions and naturally raise the net income of 0.75%
  • to rebuild the tax regime on capital: establish a 30% tax for all capital income and remove all the tax loopholes and exemptions.
  • to remove the additional wealth tax (ISF)
  • to reduce the tax regime on inheritance
  • to abrogate the withholding tax, which is under discussion at Parliament

THE LEFT STARTED ITS OWN PRIMARY WITH CONFUSION AND DIVISION

As the right has more or less managed to present a united front to start the fight for 2017, the left has ended a terrible month due to a growing personal opposition between François Hollande, who has not so far made public his intentions, and Manuel Valls, who stated in the media that Mr Hollande was not in position to run for a second term. People close to François Hollande publicly warned Valls that he will have to leave his post of Prime Minister in case he decides to go.

Besides, Emmanuel Macron declared his will run for the 2017 elections, but outside the left primary, arguing his political committment was “neither on the right or on the left”. He will be likely to lure centre-left and center-right voters, as the polls gave him between 13% and 15% of approval rating. Silvia Pinel, the former minister of housing and member of a socialist’s satellite party (The PRG) is running out of the primary either. The green party chose earlier its candidate, Yannick Jadot, through an innner primary and last but not least, Jean-Luc Melenchon, the far-left leader, who is well known for his oratory skills, announced his intention to run for 2017 outside the socialist’s primary; a party he has frimly criticized for many years now.

So, those primary elections might be far more complicated than the centre-right ones, as the left looks very divided. Seven candidates have already joined the field, which might lead to a political suicide, considering the strong performance of the far-right National Front. Like in 2002, the socialists might be disqualified for the second round of the 2017 election, however it would not be a surprise this time.

Among the official challengers, there are notably Arnaud Montebourg, the former minister of economy, apostle of de-globalisation and promoter of the “made in France”, and Benoît Hamon, member of the “fronteurs”, also opposed to François Hollande and Manuel Valls policy, even thought he was minister of education between 2012 and 2014. There are also Marie-Noelle Lieneman, a socialist senator of Paris and strong opponent to Hollande, Gérard Filoche, a far-left candidate, close to the leftist unions and François de Rugy, a former member of the green party. François Hollande and Manuel Valls are expected to announce their intentions soon.

Next steps:

  • 15 December 2016: deadline for the candidatures to the Socialist Primaries
  • 22 & 29 January 2017: socialist Primaries: first & second round
  • 23 April 23 2017: first round of the presidential election
  • 7 May 2017: second round of the presidential election