francois_fillon_ Image: Remi Jouan/Wikimedia

Francois Fillon emerged as the favourite to become the next French president yesterday as he clinched the primary race among the French Republican Party.

And so it probably boils down to a tussle between Marine Le Pen – far right – and Francois Fillion – centre right. Emmanuel Macron, Francois Holland’s former economic minister, who is standing as an independent, would appear to be on course for third place, just ahead of the communist party, with the socialist party, which may or may not be led by Mr Hollande, way behind in the polls.

But the most likely scenario is that we will see the establishment figure, former French Prime Minister, Francois Fillon battling it out with the anti-establishment figure, Marine Le Pen. That’s how politics seems be panning out at the moment – establishment versus rebellion.

Mr Fillon has been called a French Margaret Thatcher, but then that’s not new, Jacques Chirac, was given that moniker too.

Mr Fillon wants to slash 500,000 public sector jobs, do away with the 35-hour week, scrap the French wealth tax, and raise the retirement age – not exactly the policies that one would have thought would endear him to the French people – regardless of whether they are the right policies.

He is 62, a catholic with traditional views on abortion and gay marriage.

But he is most noted for vaguely pro-Putin ideas.

Mrs Thatcher once said of the then Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, that he was a man the West could do business with. It appears that Mr Fillon, just like Ms Le Pen, will be most anxious to do business with Mr Putin. With a President Trump seemingly holding similar views, it looks as if Angela Merkel, the favourite to win the German elections scheduled for late summer early autumn next year, will be isolated in her approach to Russia.

You could also characterise Mr Fillon as the austerity candidate – yet many argue that it is austerity that has led to the rise of social discontent leading to the political backlash we are seeing at the moment.

Mr Fillon said he won the race to lead the Republicans against Alain Juppé, because he represented ‘French values’ and also said , “France is more right wing than it has ever been,” and that he was the candidate to take on the Far Right.

Francois Fillon is the author of a book on ‘Islamic totalitarianism,’ has warned that France is in danger of experiencing a revolution, but also says that he is pro-entrepreneurs.

It is time that France had a pro-entrepreneur President, after all, as George ‘Dubya’ Bush once said: “The problem with France is that it doesn’t have a word for entrepreneur”.

Do you think that the Harvard-educated former US president was being ironic?