Fance’s former president Nicolas Sarkozy conceded defeat Sunday in the race to choose the conservative nominee for next year’s presidential election. With more than 3.2 million votes counted from about 80 percent of polling stations, former prime minister Francois Fillon had 44 percent, former prime minister Alain Juppe had 28.1 and Sarkozy had 21.1 percent.
The two candidates confirmed as winning the most votes advance to the Nov. 27 runoff.
In a speech from his campaign headquarters in Paris on Sunday, Sarkozy called on his supporters to vote for Fillon in the second round. “I did not succeed in convincing a majority of voters. I do respect and understand the will of those (voters) who have chosen for the future other political leaders than me,” Sarkozy said.
Fillon may win the nomination of Les Républicains, but his path to the Palais de l’Élysée is likely to be blocked by “far-right” candidate Marine le Pen, who seeks to ride the same anti-establishment wave that saw Britain ankle the EU and Trump put paid to Hillary Clinton’s girlish presidential fantasy.
The conservative nominee is expected to have strong chances of winning the April-May presidential election, because traditional rivals on the left have been weakened by Socialist Francois Hollande’s troubled presidency.
The conservative candidate’s main challenger may turn out to be far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who is hoping anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and anti-establishment sentiment can propel her to the presidency. Le Pen, official candidate of her once-pariah National Front party, did not take part in the conservative primary.
The conservatives’ campaign has focused on immigration and security concerns following recent attacks by Islamic extremists.
Islam is, of course, le Pen’s strong suit — meaning she’s against its encroachment into Christian Europe, as is every patriotic Frenchman and responsible European. Polls had already shown le Pen clobbering Sarkozy and she’s likely to be able to defeat Fillon as well. Juppe had been tipped as le Pen’s strongest rival, but his second-place finish (which ensures him a runoff against Fillon) doesn’t bode well.
Front National leader Marine Le Pen has taken a sizeable lead over Nicolas Sarkozy in a new French presidential election poll. The far-right leader had 29 per cent of the vote when pitted against Les Républicains’ former president, who was eight points behind, and held a 15-point lead over the Parti de Gauche’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the poll released by Ipsos.
Now that Sarkozy is out of the race, French intellectuals are waking up to the real possibility that le Pen will defeat the “conservative” candidate, whether Fillon or Juppe, and trounce incumbent socialist Francois Hollande, should he choose to run again.
It came as leading French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy warned people had lost interest in whether politicians tell the truth, in a development he said could set the Front National on course to occupy the Élysée Palace. “If Trump is possible, then everything is possible. Nothing, from now on, is unimaginable,” Mr Lévy told The Telegraph.
“As for Le Pen it is unlikely that she wins but it is possible, and that is partly because the people have lost interest in policy, instead focusing on personality. The people listen less and less to policy and they even seem less concerned about whether the candidates are telling the truth or not.
“They are more interested in the performance, in the theatrical quality of what is said than whether it is true. And as we know, a fascist can put on a very successful performance.”
Keep thinking like that, Bernard-Henri. Because that’s exactly how the American Left got Donald Trump elected as the next president of the United States.