Fillon: Straddler of the liberal and conservative

Special to The China Post

By Camille Camdessus — Francois Fillon, who served as French Prime Minister under President Nicolas Sarkozy from 2007 to 2012, is the right-wing contender in the French presidential election. Winner of the right-wing primaries that brought together more than 4 million voters in November 2016, the 63-year-old embodies a rather conservative and liberal tendency. Fillon was the clear leader in most polls until January, when accusations that he gave fake jobs to his family arose. Despite the allegations, Fillon still enjoys a large support base. Will they be enough to bring him to power? An Assumed Liberal Fillon believes that France suffers from a fear of hiring, notably due to overwhelming norms in terms of employment. He thus wishes to implement liberal measures in order to grant French firms the flexibility he believes they deserve.

Two measures illustrate this ideology: Fillon wants to end the sacred 35-hour workweek, instead allowing companies to decide their own schedules within the European legal limit of 48 hours. He plans to revitalize France and thinks that eliminating this fear of hiring and reducing corporate taxes is the best ways to do so. A Certain Vision of Family Believing that having children only makes sense between a man and a woman, Fillon wishes to rewrite the law that grants same-sex couples the right to plenary adoption, though it would not be retroactively applied. He also firmly opposes surrogate motherhood as well as medically assisted fertilization. This has won him the support of the same sector of society that came out strongly against the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2013. A Responsible and Disengaged State Fillon also believes that the French state is near bankruptcy and that preventing it will require significant austerity measures. His economic platform aims for public expenditure to be reduced by 100 billion euros. This will include the non-renewal of 500,000 public worker positions and the rise of civil service work hours to 39 per week. He also wants to extend the retirement age to 65. In addition, Fillon wishes to respect the budgetary treaties currently in place, which have been strongly criticized by many candidates. Fillon considers nuclear power a clean form of energy and advocates for its use to be maintained at current levels. He plans to shut down all remaining coal-fired power stations. Finally, he wishes for legal immigration into France to be kept to a bare minimum.

To do so, he plans to call for a constitutional amendment, setting the principle of quotas set by law, limiting the number of residence permits that can be issued each year.