Francois Fillon makes last push as French Presidential election nears

World Today

French election 2

Conservative candidate Francois Fillon was the favorite to win the presidency in France’s upcoming elections, until a series of scandals torpedoed his campaign.

CGTN’s Kate Parkinson reports.

Francois Fillon makes last push as French Presidential election nears

Francois Fillon makes last push as French Presidential election nears

Conservative candidate Francois Fillon was the favorite to win the presidency in France's upcoming elections, until a series of scandals torpedoed his campaign. CGTN's Kate Parkinson reports.

Fillon took French politics by storm when he swept to victory in the conservative primary last November. Overnight he became the favorite to win the presidential race.

Fillon’s promises of radical economic reform and freedom from bureaucracy struck a chord with voters and he was riding high in the polls.  Or at least he was until January. It all started to go wrong for Fillon when a French newspaper reported that his British wife, Penelope, was allegedly paid hundreds of thousands of euros of public money for a fictitious job as his parliamentary aide.

The scandal deepened when a reporter from one of France’s main investigative news programs uncovered previously unseen footage of Penelope Fillon.  In the video, she said she had never worked for her husband.

“Francois Fillon had this reputation for being away from any kind of scandals and he himself constructed that image so obviously a scandal of this nature, for someone who is running for president with that self-proclaimed image of being clean on all aspects of his life, we knew how big it was. We knew that it was going to be a thunder in the political landscape, and it was,” Pierre Monegier, Senior correspondent of France 2 said.

Fillon has now been charged with abuse of public funds and his popularity has plummeted.  But he’s resisted pressure from his party to step aside, and his core voters have remained loyal.

“He’s the only one who can rebuild France and to give back everything that we’ve lost over these past five years,” a female supporter said.

But victory for Fillon seems unlikely now. The scandals surrounding him have turned this election into one that was difficult for the center-right to lose, into one that seems impossible for them to win.