Francois Fillon, a conservative reformist promising to shrink the French state, has clinched the rightwing nomination to stand in next year’s presidential election with a resounding victory. Ex-prime minister Fillon will now become a favourite to be France’s next leader after winning the US-style primary to pick the nominee of the Republicans party and its allies. Partial results showed him winning 67 percent of the vote with results counted from 9,193 polling stations out of 10,229.
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“France wants the truth and France wants action,” he told cheering supporters after his centrist rival Alain Juppe conceded defeat on Sunday.
“The left means failure, the far-right means bankruptcy,” he declared, saying he would be the candidate of “all those who in their hearts are proud to be French”.
The French presidential vote is seen as a key test for mainstream political parties after the success of Donald Trump and the Brexit campaign in Britain, both of which harnessed anti-elite anger.
Fillon will face fierce competition in the election in April and May from far-right leader Marine Le Pen, the anti-establishment candidate hoping to emulate Trump’s shock victory in the US.
Turnout in the primary was expected to be beat the four million people who took part in a first round of voting a week ago when Fillon, 62, came from behind to lead a field of seven candidates.
The prime minister from 2007-12 has warned that France is “on the verge of revolt” and believes his plan to slash 500,000 public sector jobs and increase working hours is the tonic needed to kickstart the economy.
The devout Catholic has also taken a hard line on immigration and Islam in France, telling newcomers to the country last week that “when you enter someone else’s house you do not take over.”