In France, François Fillon is the centre right candidate for next year’s presidential election having beaten Alain Juppé by 67% of the votes against 33%. Given the rising tide of populism in both Europe and the US, this is more than a little concerning.
French elections have two rounds of voting. If no-one wins 50% of the vote in the first round, there is a run-off between the two leading candidates to decide the winner. With the French left in disarray (again), the polls point to the run-off being between tne centre-right candidate (Fillion) and and the FN’s Marine Le Pen.
The issue here is that Fillon is an outspoken Thatcherite who wants to take on the unions, shrink the public sector, abolish the 35 hour working week, and generally tip the French economy on it’s head.
As The Economist points out:
Plenty of voters on the left deeply dislike both Mr Fillon’s economic and social policies. Already Libération, a left-leaning newspaper, has splashed a photo montage blending his face with that of Thatcher on the front page. The country’s biggest union has warned that it will be on the streets if the centre-right wins. During the primary, Mr Juppé spoke darkly of the “brutality” of Mr Fillon’s economic programme. After his primary win, one Socialist deputy called it “violent and dangerous”.
The worry here is that in the second round of voting, left-leaning voters are going to find themselves being asked to support the Thatcherite in order to keep out the fascist. Faced with that choice, it is conceivable that many of them will stay at home instead.
And the US has just shown us how that turns out.