Fillon Not Planning to Drop Out of French Presidential RaceBy
Francois Fillon doesn’t plan to pull out of France’s presidential race and will use a press conference Monday to fight allegations he improperly employed family members, campaign officials said.
The Republican candidate will hold a press conference at his Paris campaign headquarters at 4 p.m. Monday, the second step in his attempt to recover control of his campaign after a Friday Facebook message where he called on his supporters to stick with him and promised to “stay on track.”
Le Monde newspaper called Fillon’s “response a survival operation,” while Paris Match magazine wrote that the “house is on fire.” While Fillon asked his parliamentary group on Wednesday to give him two weeks to turn the situation around, the Republicans will have little time to find a replacement candidate if Fillon is forced to quit. The first round of voting is scheduled for April 23 and candidates need to be registered by mid March.
The Republican nominee’s plan may prove difficult as he has been steadily falling in opinion surveys since a report broke on Jan. 24 that his wife had worked as his parliamentary assistant for many years while showing little to no presence in parliament. Prosecutors opened a preliminary probe into the matter and extended the investigation into his children who also worked in similar jobs.
Polls by Ifop and Elabe show Fillon has slipped into third place in the election behind National Front leader Marine Le Pen and independent candidate Emmanuel Macron. Surveys also show that Macron would go on to defeat Le Pen in the May 7 run-off vote.
Le Pen currently has the support of 25 percent of voters, compared with 20.5 percent for Macron and 18.5 percent for Fillon, according to the latest Ifop rolling poll.