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Sun Nov 20, 2016, 06:14 PM

Sarkozy humiliated in French Primary

The former French prime minister François Fillon, a socially conservative, free-market reformer who admires Margaret Thatcher and voted against same-sex marriage, has topped the first round of the primary race to choose the right’s candidate for the presidential race next spring.

With three quarters of votes counted, Fillon, who served as prime minister under president Nicolas Sarkozy from 2007 to 2012, had topped the poll by a large margin. He now faces a second-round run off against Alain Juppé, the more moderate mayor of Bordeaux who was prime minister under Jacques Chirac.

But the divisive former president Sarkozy suffered a humiliating defeat, knocked out of the race after he ran an extremely hard-right campaign on French national identity, targeting Muslims and minorities. His poor score after a campaign in which he suggested banning Muslim headscarves from universities and was forced to protest his innocence faced with several legal investigations into corrupt campaign financing, showed he had become just as much a hate-figure on the right as on the left.

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