France is getting prepared for the presidential elections set to take place in May 2017. For the first time, right wing party Les Rèpublicains has decided to organize primary elections to nominate a single candidate for the presidency. The Socialist Party has been organizing primaries for ten years already, and the right wing, wishing to avoid any bad surprise at the first round of the elections, wanted to nominate a single candidate. A number of candidates applied for the job, not least former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who never accepted his defeat against the insipidus campaign of Hollande five years ago.
Three main candidacies emerged out of all applicants, together with Sarkozy, Alain Jupp, a long-time leader of the conservative party, many times minister and prime minister, seemed to be the potential winner. The outsider was François Fillon, prime minister under Sarkozy uninterruptedly for five years, between 2007 and 2012. Everything was pointing to a Sarkozy-Juppè duel at the second round. Nicolas Sarkozy, with his usual energy, ambition and organizational capacity, seemed to be also well-placed to win the nomination contest.
The first round results were a big surprise for everyone. Fillon, whose very inward-looking personality seemed to be a big obstacle for winning the contest, has received almost half of the votes. Four million voters participated, making it a historic record for any primary. Jupp
came second, with a meagre 28 percent and Sarkozy was largely defeated with only 20 percent of the vote.
Off goes Nicolas Sarkozy, nobody will regret him in Turkey. He was ambition at its purest form, but nothing more than this. He has left deep and unhealed scars in Turkish-French relations. Nobody really understood why he was chosen to take a definitely hostile and violent stance against Turkey during his presidency. He even sabotaged grossly the accession negotiations, by vetoing five important chapters because "he did not want Turkey to become a member state." These negotiations never really recovered after Sarkozy's attacks. François Hollande tried to mend the divide, but it never really resumed, because of the initial loss of motivation and trust between the two parties. Thinking that without Sarkozy, EU-Turkey relations would have been much more successful is pure speculation. But there is a fact, Sarkozy bears a huge responsibility in pushing these relations into a dead-end. His style and rhetoric concerning Turkey has also legitimized a very anti-Turkey position among the conservative parties in Europe, fueling already existing islamophobia sentiments.
is the perfect stereotype of a politician who is "president." He has enough experience and knowledge to become a successful president, he wants to rally as much voters as he can, opening toward the center and keeping the conservative votes at once. He is as "established" as Hillary Clinton and this is probably why he will lose against Fillon at the second round. The latter has come up with a very conservative program, reminding the Thatcher years and reforms back in 1980s Great Britain. He wants to suppress half a million jobs in the public sector, prolong the weekly working hours, he definitely opts for a blunt "realpolitik," wanting to pussyfoot against Russian President Vladimir Putin. He is not at all like Trump; we have a courteous, well-educated French gentleman, however his political views are "anti-establishment" and that might only get him the French presidency. Putin, on his own part, is extremely happy and amused after Donald Trump's election victory in the U.S. and Fillon's great achievement in France.
The "isolationist" stance of a new, "anti-establishment" political class emerging within the conservative parties is likely to become the greatest danger in coming years. Focusing too much on the rise of the extreme-right, fascistic and xenophobic, prevents us most of the time to see the influence of these ideas on conservative parties. It is unfortunately more than likely that we will have to analyze similar developments in near future.
Some thoughts that have nothing to do with this article: Virtually all of the women's organizations in Turkey, having very different political views, have stood up against a provocative and imbecile draft legislation aiming at alleviating the penalties concerning people who married under age girls. Their common indignation has pushed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to ask for the revision of such an untimely and revolting attempt. The draft legislation has been taken away from Parliament's agenda, it will hopefully never see the day again but the harm has already been done. The only good news remains the capacity of organization, indignation and influence of women's associations in Turkey.
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