France's next President could be an Islamophobic "Thatcherite" who wants to dismantle the social safety net

The Trump election gave real legitimacy to Europe's fascist parties, including France's Marine Le Pen of the National Front; and in the absence of real, left-win alternatives for populist discontent, the only real opposition to these authoritarians is coming from the hard right parties, which are swinging even further to the right to try to gain back some of their supporters.

The French Republican party has just selected its presidential candidate: Francois Fillon, a self-described "Thatcherite" who is openly Islamophobic and has pledged to make French workers put in longer hours while rolling back wages and protections.

Meanwhile, the French left is still in disarray, offering a divided front populated by mild, establishment figures and fringe candidates.

A racing car enthusiast who lives with his Anglo-Welsh wife Penelope in a chateau in the Loire valley, Mr Fillon is a social conservative who has positioned himself as a defender of traditional family values and France's Catholic roots and an opponent of "multiculturalism".

He has also taken a hard line on Islam, saying the religion must change in the wake of terror attacks that have left 230 dead in the past two years.

"The Islamic religion (must) accept what all the others have accepted in the past… that radicalism and provocation have no place here," he said at his final Paris rally on Friday.

On the economic front, he has promised to break with France's statist tradition and to roll out an ambitious free-market programme that will undoubtedly set him on collision course with France's unions.

His pledge to slash half a million state sector jobs, jettison the 35-hour week, and pay 'fonctionnaires' 37 hours for working 39 were branded "brutal" and unworkable by Mr Juppé.

'France wants action': Thatcherite Francois Fillon promises radical reforms after winning presidential primary
[Henry Samuel/Telegraph]

(via Naked Capitalism)

(Image: Francois Fillon, Rama, CC-BY-SA)