François Fillon

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François Fillon at the UMP launch rally of the 2010 French regional elections campaign in Paris. Credit: Marie-Lan Nguyen

François Fillon is a French lawyer and politician, who served as Prime Minister under Nicolas Sarkozy's mandate (2007-2012). He is a member of the right-wing political party, The Republicans, previously known until 2015 as the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP). [1]

Fillon was Jean-Pierre Raffarin's labour minister in 2002 and spearheaded highly controversial reforms ending the 35-hour working week law and changing the French retirement system. Another controversial law was the 'Fillon law on Education', which he proposed as national education minister in 2004.

Fill won the first round of the Republicans national election primary on 20 November 2016. [2]


Opposing same-sex marriage

In 2013, Fillon voted against the introduction of same-sex marriage, and as a young MP in 1982 he voted against the law that in effect legalised homosexuality by setting an equal age of consent. [3]

Burkini ban support

In August 2016, Fillon published an official press release stating that he supported the burkini ban orchestrated by several mayors across France. The reasons he gave were that, like the burqa (which had been banned in 2010), the burkini is an inherently political object, meant to show hostility and aggression towards 'Occidental civilisation, our way of life, and our values, which include the principle of equality between man and woman'. The press release argued that this hostility shown by the burqa and the burkini had, in extreme cases, pushed towards the recent terrorist attacks in France. [4]

Primaries acceptance speech

After winning the The Republicans primaries in a surprise victory, Fillon made a speech that made the Gates of Vienna blog call him a 'Wannabe Marine Le Pen'. The translation of its video of the speech is as follows:

'I requested administrative control of the Muslim faith and prohibition of its funding by foreign countries until Muslims are fully integrated with the Republic. I want the immediate dissolution of all movements that claim connection with Salafism or the Muslim Brotherhood, because they defend ideas contrary to our values. And in the past we have we have dissolved political movements that defend ideas contrary to our values, whether right- or left-wing. Islamic totalitarianism declared war on us, and it has some of its fighters among us. I want to clarify our relations with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which are sheltering the ideologues of radical Islam and the grim promoters of the burkini. National unity calls for a strictly controlled immigration, reduced to a minimum, chosen by quotas, obedient concerning the duties of foreigners, bending to the language, customs, and two thousand years of history. It’s a question of unity, but it’s also a question of respect, because the last people arriving in a house, shouldn’t consider themselves the leaders and the owners in someone else’s place. I demanded a re-organization of our intelligence services, and a strict application of the Penal Code, which allows a sentence of up to 30 years of prison for all those who have relations with enemy, meaning the Islamic State. [I also demanded] the aggravated sentencing for those visiting jihadist internet pages.' [5]

Several figures from the right of the party were attended his speech, including the former minister Nadine Morano who has been banned from the party for repeatedly insisting France was a 'white race' country.[3]


On abortion

When his centre-right opponent Alain Juppé insisted he clarify his position on abortion, Fillon said that as a Catholic he is personally opposed to abortion but would not try to change the 1975 law that legalised it in France. [2]

On gender equality

He abstained when parliament was voting on a 2014 law on the equality of men and women, and claims to adopt 'socially conservative values', especially around the family. [3] It also emerged during the week of the primaries that while prime minister, Fillon had told the junior minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet that she would not be promoted to a full ministerial job 'because you’re pregnant'. But Fillon shrugged it off, saying his comment had been clumsy and a bad joke, and that he had apologised to her at the time.[2]

On Patriotism

After winning the Republican primaries, he vowed to defend France’s history and Christian roots. He aims to do so by briging back the school uniform, and by rewriting the history curriculum to tell the 'national story' of France by getting rid of an analytical focus on questioning history, which he said was about 'doubting' France. [3]

On LGBT rights

He appears to be against sam-sex adoption, which he called 'dangerous social experiments' of the family at a November 2016 rally in Lyon. The centre-right gay rights association GayLib described his vision of France as 'clearly hostile to LGBT people'. [3]

On 'Islamism'

He published a book in the autumn of 2016 entitled Conquering Islamic Totalitarianism, which raised his profile significantly in the right. In it, he lambasted the current French government for failing to deal with the Islamic terrorism that had seen hundreds of people killed in France in less than 2 years. Leaning towards the 'clash of civilisations' theory developed in the 1990s by Samuel Huntington, Fillon warned that 'the bloody invasion of Islamism into our daily life could herald a third world war'. [3]

Foreign policy

Fillon claims that France’s war against 'Islamic totalitarianism' means 'we’ll need lots of allies, among them Russia' and Bashar Al-Assad. Fillon and President Putin appear on good terms; Putin recently told reporters in Moscow that Fillon was an 'upstanding person'.[3]


  1. Décret du 17 mai 2007 portant nomination du Premier minister , 'Legifrance', 17 May 2007. Accessed 24 November 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 France's Francois Fillon under fire over women's rights, BBC News, 22 November 2016. Accessed 24 November 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Angelique Chrisafis, How François Fillon became the French right's new hope, The Guardian, 23 November 2016. Accessed 24 November 2016.
  4. Communiqué sur le Burkini, Fillon2017, 19 August 2016. Accessed 24 November 2016.
  5. Baron Bodissey, A Wannabe Marine Le Pen, Gates of Vienna, November 21, 2016. Accessed 24 November 2016.