Fillon Wins “Unanimous” Support From Conservatives

Fillon Wins “Unanimous” Support From ConservativesFillon Wins “Unanimous” Support From Conservatives

France’s embattled presidential hopeful Francois Fillon on Monday won “unanimous” support from his Republicans party, putting him firmly back in the driver’s seat after veteran conservative Alain Juppe rejected calls to stand in his place.

“The political committee, after a wide-ranging exchange, unanimously renewed its support for Francois Fillon,” Senate Speaker Gerard Larcher told reporters after around 20 party seniors met to “evaluate” the crisis sparked by the fake jobs scandal clouding Fillon’s campaign.

Fillon, 63, had told the meeting that Juppe’s definitive decision not to run “confirmed that there isn’t a plan B” to his candidacy, France24 reported.

With just seven weeks to go before the country goes to the polls in a two-stage vote, Fillon said, “We have lost too much time with vain debates, leaving the way open for the far right and candidates on the left who are rubbing their hands over our disunity.”

In a somber statement earlier Monday, Juppe, 71, said he would not stand in for Fillon, whom he criticized for his defiance of the justice system and swipes at the media.

Earlier Monday, allies of ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy were still pushing Fillon to step aside and name a replacement.

Fillon was once the favorite to be France’s next leader but his campaign is mired in accusations he used public funds to pay his wife hundreds of thousands of euros for fake parliamentary jobs.

The disarray appears to have benefited centrist, pro-business candidate Emmanuel Macron in particular, as well as far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who are shown in polls to be the likely top two candidates in the first round of voting on April 23.

Polls suggest 39-year-old Macron would beat Le Pen in the decisive second round on May 7, but after Donald Trump’s victory and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, analysts caution against bold predictions.

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints