00:17 GMT01 December 2020
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    Francois Fillon's victory has shown the French Republicans' intention to win the Elysee Palace in 2017. Meanwhile France's Socialist Party seems to be in complete disarray on the threshold of the presidential election, Jerome Lambert of the French center-left RRDP party told Sputnik.

    Francois Fillon's victory has stuck the French political establishment as a bolt from the blue. While the French center-right candidate has scored a resounding victory, the French Left has found itself amidst deep crisis.

    "Today's reality is that the Left seems to be completely atomized on the threshold of the presidential elections. There is a candidate from the Left, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who has kicked off his campaign. Emmanuel Macron, the center-left candidate has also launched a campaign. And then the Socialist Party will organize primaries to select candidates; some of them have not yet been put forward and it is still unclear who will be nominated [for the 2017 presidential election]. So, the situation is deeply complicated for the Left," Jerome Lambert of the French center-left RRDP party told Sputnik.

    "There is a split within the Left camp and they run the risk of being defeated in the next [presidential] election if they remain that atomized," Lambert stressed.

    Bid for Elysee: Valls and Hollande

    The French politician pointed out that President Hollande needs to decide whether or not he will become the Socialist Party's candidate.

    Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manuel Valls added fuel to the fire earlier this week.

    In his Sunday interview with Journal du Dimanche Valls hinted at the possibility of running in the Socialist primary even if Hollande takes part in the presidential race.

    The move prompted a heated debate. However, on Monday, Valls rushed to dismiss the speculation of his split with Hollande.

    "There cannot be, especially at a time when France is confronted by the threat of terrorism, a political confrontation between the president of the Republic and the prime minister over a primary election," sources close to Valls told AFP, France24.com reported.

    Commenting on the matter Lambert stressed that it would be a bizarre and even tragic situation if the current prime minister signals a rival bid against the President of the Republic.

    "If Manuel Walls runs against Francois Hollande, he should quickly leave the Hotel Matignon [the official residence of the Prime Minister of France], i.e. resign as a Prime Minister. It would be one of the most bizarre, event tragic events, if the Prime minister spoke against the head of the state… four months before the election. It would aggravate an emergency situation," Lambert told Sputnik.

    French President Francois Hollande (L) speaks with French Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve (C) and Prime Minister Manuel Valls at the Elysee palace in Paris on June 3, 2014, after the weekly cabinet meeting.
    © AFP 2020 / ALAIN JOCARD
    French President Francois Hollande (L) speaks with French Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve (C) and Prime Minister Manuel Valls

    'No One Believes the Left Has Chance to Win'

    Speaking to Sputnik, French Republican lawmaker Thierry Mariani expressed skepticism over the Left's prospects to win the presidential elections.

    "No one believes that the Socialist Party has a chance to win the upcoming presidential elections, since they are that scattered and their results are that disastrous," Mariani highlighted.

    "No one believes that the National Front will be able to come with any solutions," he continued, "The economic program of the National Front is that what Francois Mitterrand proposed in the 1980s. I have the impression that the National Front's program resembles nothing so much as that of Communists and nationalists: frozen prices, the option to retire at 60 and pure demagogy."

    In contrast to other candidates, Francois Fillon has a serious and comprehensive economic program, Mariani insists, adding that it has already received praise from experts.

    "I always ask one and the same question. When meeting the French, I tell them: remember how the vote was held on the last balanced budget in France. It was in 1973. Since then, France has been living in debt. This cannot continue anymore," the French lawmaker emphasized, adding that Fillon has also clearly articulated his foreign policy vision.

    Fillon's 'Shock Therapy' May Tip the Balance Against Him

    However, according to Christine Bierre, Chief Editor of Nouvelle Solidarite, the newspaper of the French political party Solidarite & Progres, Fillon's economic program may tip the balance against him.

    Speaking to Sputnik, Bierre called attention to the fact that the French Republican nominee proposes tough Margaret Thatcher-style economic policies, dubbed "shock therapy."

    "Fillon wants to eliminate 500,000 public jobs during his tenure! No less than 10 percent of all public workers. He will reduce the 'social' charges paid by companies (covering for costs of unemployment, retirement, public health insurance, social security, etc.), by 50 billion and scrap the tax on large fortunes (ISF) and the 75 percent tax on revenues exceeding one million euros, and extend retirement age to 65 years," Bierre elaborated, adding that his program "will not make it easy for him to win."

    The French journalist added that Fillon's win means "a weaker National Front, because Fillon is getting the catholic right wing 'values' and 'authority' vote."

    Fillon's Foreign Policy: Is Russo-French Rapprochement Possible?

    She pointed out that Fillon's foreign policy agenda differs much from Hollande's, adding that under Hollande the Elysee Palace has aligned itself too closely with Washington.

    A regular participant of the Valdai Club meetings Fillon has repeatedly called the Europeans to lift sanctions on Russia and team up with Moscow to fight against Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) in the Middle East.

    Fillon's victory and the Right's rise is a manifestation of a serious political shift within the EU.

    Bierre called attention to the fact that the Brexit vote, Trump's win, and the rise of the Right in France are part of a broader anti-establishment protest which is taking place on both sides of the Atlantic.

    "The West is undergoing a deep financial, economic, but also a very profound moral crisis," she stressed.

    At the same time the EU is seemingly losing former appeal.

    "Britain left, the Italians will most probably vote against Renzi's referendum next December, provoking an institutional crisis in that country where the anti-EU sentiment is strong. Switzerland has dropped its request for membership in the EU. Even Turkey is considering doing the same…" Bierre underscored.


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    presidential election, anti-Russian sanctions, French Presidential Election 2017, French Republican party, French Socialist Party, European Union, Donald Trump, Manuel Valls, Francois Hollande, Thierry Mariani, Jerome Lambert, Francois Fillon, US, Europe, France, Russia
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