French presidential election: Who is Francois Fillon?


:: Early Life

Francois Fillon (R) and Alain Juppe

Video:French presidential candidate: Who is Francois Fillon?

Born on 4 March, 1954, in Le Mans, France, Francois Fillon is the son of a lawyer and a teacher and had a strict, Catholic upbringing.

He studied at the University of Maine in Le Mans, receiving a master’s degree in public law in 1976.

Five years later he took his first steps into politics, becoming a member of the National Assembly for Sarthe in 1981 at the age of just 27 and serving as Mayor of Sable-sur-Sarthe for 18 years.

Since working his way up through the UMP party he has held a number of ministerial roles, culminating in serving as prime minister under Nicolas Sarkozy from 2007 to 2012.

The 62-year-old lives in a 12th century chateau close to where he grew up in Sarthe, western France.

He is married to Welsh-born Penelope Kathryn Clarke. They met during the final year of her degree, when she was a teaching assistant at a school in Le Mans, and were married in Llanover.

The couple have five children.

:: Party – Les Republicains

Francois Fillon gives a news conference and denies illegality

Video:Francois Fillon apologises for ‘mistake’

Mr Fillon is the Republican candidate, beating Nicolas Sarkozy and Alaine Juppe to win the nomination in November.

He served as prime minister under Mr Sarkozy – who once referred to him as his “employee” – but now hopes to step out of his shadow.

Les Republicains are social-conservative and France’s largest right-wing political party, formed after the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) was renamed in 2015.

Awkward? Mr Fillon beat Nicolas Sarkozy to the Republican nomination
Image Caption:Awkward? Mr Fillon beat Nicolas Sarkozy to the Republican nomination

Mr Fillon hopes to follow in the footsteps of previous Republican presidents, including Charles de Gaulle, Valery Giscard d’Estaing and Jacques Chirac.

:: If elected

Penelope Clarke

Video:Fillon’s wife denies being his paid assistant

The self-professed Thatcherite wants to end the 35-hour working week in France; cut 500,000 civil service jobs; slash public spending by €100bn; abolish wealth tax; reduce immigration and invest €12bn in security, defence and justice.

He has promised to take on the inevitable backlash from unions if his pledges are bought in.

One of the problems he faces though is sounding a different note to the far-right in France, headed by the National Front, and he has called for a “restructuring” of French politics – echoing similar calls made by US President Donald Trump.

Mr Fillon has, perhaps controversially, called for rapprochement towards Vladimir Putin and Russia over the Syria conflict.

He would also reform the EU and the Schengen agreement, including bringing in limitations on immigration.

:: Did you know?

Penelope Fillon

Video:Fillon’s British wife: Very satisfied with election win

Mr Fillon is an avid motor racing enthusiast, often competing at the famous race track in Le Mans near his home. He also appeared on the French version of Top Gear.

His younger brother Philippe is married to his wife’s younger sister Jane.

Mr Fillon has seen his campaign flounder over a 'fake jobs' scandal
Image Caption:Mr Fillon has seen his campaign flounder over a ‘fake jobs’ scandal

:: Slogan

“The courage of the truth.”

It is a little unfortunate, considering the “fake job” scandal that has seen him drop from election favourite to third place.


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