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Why France’s Surprise Primary Winner Is No Trump: QuickTake Q&A

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Rahman: French Election Most Likely Fillon vs. Le Pen

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The election surprises of 2016 continue. In France, former Prime Minister Francois Fillon secured the center-right nomination for president after trailing in third or even fourth place for most of the campaign. He’ll face National Front leader Marine Le Pen and a candidate representing the divided and weakened Socialist Party, which won’t choose its nominee until January. The first round of voting will be on April 23, with the two leading candidates competing in a runoff May 7. 

Though his poll-defying triumph echoed the results in the U.S. election, Fillon is no political outsider promising to drain the swamp. A lifelong politician who admires Margaret Thatcher, he campaigned on a familiar litany of conservative solutions: cutting spending, slashing government jobs, reducing corporate taxes and increasing the retirement age. He wants to keep France in both the Schengen passport-free zone and the euro single currency. Plus, he has a fairly unremarkable haircut. If there’s one thing Trump and Fillon do share, other than an aversion to trade deals, it’s a certain admiration for Russia’s Vladimir Putin.