France presidential race: Fillon wins conservative candidacy 3 minutes ago

France presidential race: Fillon wins conservative candidacy

  • 3 minutes ago
  • From the sectionEurope
Francois Fillon greets supporters after results of run-off are known, on 27 November 2016Image copyrightAFP
Image captionMr Fillon said France wanted “truth and it wants action”

Francois Fillon is to be the conservative candidate in next year’s French presidential election after his rival Alain Juppe admitted defeat.

With virtually all the results counted, Mr Fillon had won Sunday’s run-off with nearly 67% of the vote.

Mr Fillon said action was now needed to build a fairer society.

He is likely to face a Socialist candidate and the far-right’s Marine Le Pen in next April’s election.

“My approach has been understood,” he told his supporters after the result of the Republican party primary became clear. “France can’t bear its decline. It was truth and it wants action.”

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Mr Juppe, the more moderate candidate, congratulated Mr Fillon on his “large victory” and pledged to support him in his bid to become president.

Analysis by Lucy Williamson, BBC News, Paris

Francois Fillon was the man to beat going into this run-off vote, and his team knew it.

Shortly after polls closed, they were already celebrating at his party headquarters, as the first partial results came in. Within hours, it was confirmed. Mr Fillon had won two-thirds of the vote; a stunning victory for the candidate once seen as the ‘third man’ in the contest.

Alain Juppe appeared in front of his own, determined supporters, to concede the contest. He gave a small smile to the crowds chanting his name and told them he was ending the contest as he began it: “A free man, who didn’t betray who he was or what he thought.”

The job for Mr Fillon now is to unite his party after this unprecedented primary battle, and prepare to take on the governing Socialist party – and the far-right leader Marine Le Pen – in presidential elections next year.

With votes from 9,334 of the 10,229 polling stations counted, Mr Fillon won 66.9% while Mr Juppe had 33.1%.

Mr Fillon had been widely expected to win the race, after securing 44% of the vote in the first round a week ago that saw former President Nicolas Sarkozy knocked out.

A former prime minister under Mr Sarkozy, the 62-year-old is a Catholic who is seen as a traditionalist on issues such as abortion and gay marriage.

He is proposing dramatic economic reforms that include slashing 500,000 public jobs, ending the 35-hour week, raising the retirement age and scrapping the wealth tax.

Mr Juppe, also a former prime minister, had initially been seen as the favourite to win the race, but struggled against Mr Fillon’s strong performances in the primary debates.

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