Juppe may step in if Fillon quits French race

2017-03-03 18:10
Francois Fillon (AP)

Francois Fillon (AP)

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Bordeaux - Former French prime minister Alain Juppe is ready to step in as a conservative presidential candidate if the beleaguered Francois Fillon pulls out, a member of Juppe's entourage said on Friday.

Juppe, 71, "will not refuse if all the conditions are met - Francois Fillon has to take the decision to pull out himself and the right-wing and centre camps... have to be united behind him", the source said.

Fillon, 62, came from behind to beat Juppe in the right-wing nominating contest in November and Juppe returned to the southwest city of Bordeaux where he is mayor. He has kept a low profile since.

Fillon this week revealed he is to be charged over allegations that he paid his British-born wife hundreds of thousands of euros to work as his parliamentary assistant, even though little evidence can be found of the work she is supposed to have done.

Police raided the Fillons' Paris residence on Thursday and more right-wing supporters deserted him, adding to the pressure on him to step aside less than two months before the first round of voting.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen is leading polling ahead of the first round on April 23, but surveys currently show she will be beaten in the decisive run-off on May 7, by either the right-wing candidate or centrist Emmanuel Macron.



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