PARIS, France: : Former president Nicolas Sarkozy crashed out of the French presidential election on Sunday, suffering a humiliating defeat in the first round of the rightwing primary. Sarkozy was beaten into third place after a stunning upset by Francois Fillon, who served as his prime minister, with the veteran Alain Juppe placing second.
The surprise result puts Fillon in a commanding position for next Sunday’s second round of a contest that is widely expected to decide France’s next leader.
The winner is tipped to face — and beat — far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the decisive presidential run-off next May.
In a major upset, Fillon, a pro-business conservative, took more than 44 percent of the vote to around 28 percent for former prime minister and foreign minister Juppe and just under 21 percent for Sarkozy, according to nearly complete results.
“I fought for my beliefs with passion… I did not manage to convince the voters,” a dignified Sarkozy told his supporters, and threw his support behind Fillon.
“I have great respect for Alain Juppe, but Francois Fillon’s political choices are closer to mine,” Sarkozy said, adding he would now withdraw from political life… see more