Fillon, Juppe face off for French Conservative presidential ticket

Francois Fillon is up against ex-PM, Alain Juppe, in the second round of the primaries on Nov 27Francois Fillon is up against ex-PM, Alain Juppe, in the second round of the primaries on Nov 27

Paris: Francois Fillon heads into a five-day runoff campaign for France’s conservative presidential ticket as favourite over opponent Alain Juppe after a stunning first-round vote result that ousted Nicolas Sarkozy from the race.

Market analysts say the outcome opens up fresh uncertainty about the result of next year’s actual presidential election, potentially increasing a still remote risk that far-right leader Marine Le Pen can win it.

Fillon is up against another former PM, Alain Juppe, in a second round of the primaries on November 27. Juppe has a week to turn around his momentum-sapped campaign and win over supporters of the other candidates.

With Fillon only six points short of the 50 per cent threshold needed in the first round and Sarkozy on his side, it looks a tall order for Juppe.

However, any French voter can take part in the run-off next Sunday.

At stake is an almost certain place in the second round of next spring’s presidential election, pollsters say, with the French left in turmoil under the unpopular President Francois Hollande.

In that poll next May, the conservative challenger would in all likelihood face National Front party leader Le Pen.

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