Why Fillon’s win has thrown down the gauntlet to the entire French Left

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François Fillon won Sunday’s conservative primary election because the Left no longer exists as a serious opposition. That, in a nutshell, is the message sent by voters on the Right in choosing Fillon as their presidential candidate for 2017. They are sure that their champion has the temperament, and the unique opportunity, to act without wondering whether such and such a measure will be too tough to get through, or too risky to implement. The two candidates in Sunday’s primary, François Fillon and Bordeaux mayor Alain Juppé, had more or less the same political programme, in other words the most liberal conservative manifestos since World War II. What divided them, to an impressive extent, was that while Juppé wanted to smooth the hard edges of his programme, Fillon wanted to sharpen them. To listen to Fillon speak it will be a question of taking it or leaving it.

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