As the April 23rd French Presidential election draws closer, center-right candidate Francois Fillon is rallying supporters in the midst of accusations from opponents of corruption. Fillon previously served as Prime Minister while Nicolas Sarkozy was the French President between 2007 and 2012.
The corruption allegations against Fillon stem from accusations that he directed large payments to family members of public funds in exchange for little or no work. Fillon has both denied the charges as well resisted pressure to step aside for fellow Republican Alain Juppe, telling supporters that he “can’t be stopped.”
Republican Party leadership is meeting on Monday in order to determine a path forward. In the most recent opinion polling, Marine Le Pen led the pack of candidates with 26% support, followed by social liberal Emmanuel Macron with 25% support. Fillon is third with 17% support.
If no candidate receives a majority of the vote on April 23rd, a run-off will be held on May 7th between the two candidates with the most votes. That makes Fillon’s struggles in the polls and falling into third place extremely worrisome to the Republican Party. Although it is difficult to gauge public reaction to a switch at the top of the party ticket, some polling suggests that Juppe, whom Fillon defeated in a primary, would be receiving between 24% and 25% of the vote and be much more competitive in advancing to the likely run-off in May.