Fillon Announces Candidacy for Next Presidential Election

François Fillon. Photo: People's Party - EPP

François Fillon.
Photo: People’s Party – EPP

Former French Prime Minister François Fillon has declared that he will be a candidate in the next presidential election. He stated his intention to run in an informal interview after receiving an honor in Tokyo.

Though the presidential race is still four years away, Fillon declared that he would run “no matter what.” While he clarified later that the candidacy would be for the UMP primaries prior to the elections, his assertion sparked some controversy in his party, the center-right Union pour un mouvement populaire (UMP), as former French President Nicolas Sarkozy had also alluded to a campaign for reelection in 2017.

Despite Sarkozy’s pledge to leave the political scene, his approval ratings have been on the rise as those of current president Hollande wane, perhaps inciting his desire to return. The former president recently stated in an interview that he may be “forced” to return to politics, as French citizens have been increasingly dissatisfied with Hollande’s response to the financial crisis.

Sarkozy’s allies were quick to defend him and denounce Fillon. “[Fillon] is more concerned about his career than what is happening in France,” said Patrick Balkany, a UMP deputy mayor and close friend of Sarkozy.

This is not the first time that turmoil has beset the UMP. Last year, a bitter battle emerged for party leadership between Fillon and Jean-Francois Copé. Copé has remained largely neutral on the presidential issue, saying that 2017 is far away and that France should focus first on the UMP primaries before the election itself.

The UMP primaries will be held in 2016.

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