Fillon France election: Decisive hours for Republican candidate

Fillon France election: Decisive hours for Republican candidate

France’s centre-right Republicans are to meet on Monday evening to try to resolve the crisis over presidential candidate Francois Fillon.

Mr Fillon has denied allegations that members of his family were paid taxpayers’ money for fictitious jobs.

But he has lost support within the party and in opinion polls ahead of the first round of the election next month.

Alain Juppe, seen as the most likely replacement if he withdraws, is due to make a statement at 10:30 (09:30 GMT).

Until now he has insisted he will not be the party’s Plan B, but polls suggest he would have a far greater chance than Mr Fillon of reaching the final round of the presidential vote in May.

Mr Fillon told French TV on Sunday evening that “no-one today can prevent me being a candidate”. But pressure on him is mounting and the battle between Mr Fillon and his party may be entering the end game, says the BBC’s Lucy Williamson in Paris.

At Monday night’s party meeting, Republican heavyweights will seek a way forward to bridge the growing cracks between their candidate and his former rivals.

Key members of the Fillon campaign team have abandoned him and several leading Republicans have wavered in their support.

At a mass rally in Paris on Sunday, a defiant Mr Fillon told tens of thousands of supporters that he would fight on.

He rejected the idea of being replaced by Mr Juppe, his rival in the primaries last year.

“If they had wanted Alain Juppe’s project, then they would have voted for Alain Juppe in that election,” Mr Fillon said.

He said he would be exonerated when an impending criminal investigation got under way, and it would be the turn of his accusers to feel ashamed.

For weeks he has fought allegations that his wife, Penelope, was paid for a number of years for work that she did not do as his parliamentary assistant.

However Mrs Fillon, who insists she did work for her husband, told French magazine Journal du Dimanche on Saturday that “everything was legal and declared”.

Also under scrutiny are claims that two of the children, Marie and Charles, were paid by their father’s office for legal work though they had not yet qualified as lawyers.




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