Fillon v Juppe: how French right's presidential hopefuls shape up

Clare Byrne
AFP
Alain Juppe (L) and Francois Fillon will go head-to-head in a run-off of France's rightwing presidential primary
Alain Juppe (L) and Francois Fillon will go head-to-head in a run-off of France's rightwing presidential primary (AFP Photo/Joel Saget)

Paris (AFP) - Francois Fillon and Alain Juppe, the two men duelling for the presidential nomination of the French right, both advocate deep economic reforms, including scrapping the 35-hour work week, a sacred cow of the French left.

But the two former prime ministers disagree on how far to cut back the French state and on several other key domestic and foreign policy points.

- ECONOMY -

FILLON: Proposes cutting 500,000 public sector jobs over five years and eliminating the 35-hour working week. Would allow bosses and private sector workers to negotiate working time directly, within an EU limit of 48 hours a week. Wants civil servants to work 39 hours a week but without being paid necessarily a full four extra hours.

Would increase the minimum retirement age from 62 to 65 and cut taxes, mainly for companies who would pay 25 percent corporation tax, down from 33 percent currently. Has promised to scrap a wealth tax on top earners. In total, would cut public spending by 100 billion euros ($106 billion).

JUPPE: Would cut 200,000-300,000 public sector jobs. Private sector bosses and workers would have two years to directly negotiate working time. Failing an accord, the default would be 39 hours a week. Civil servants would also need to progressively work longer hours (number of hours unspecified) but be paid commensurately.

Proposes to cut public spending by 85-100 billion euros. Would, like Fillon, increase the minimum retirement age to 65 and scrap a wealth tax on top earners. Would also cut income tax by two billion euros.

- IMMIGRATION -

FILLON: Would reduce immigration to a "strict minimum" via quotas approved by parliament and increase deportations of illegal migrants. Proposes to link development aid to Africa to commitments by countries to take back illegal immigrants.

JUPPE: Would also introduce quotas on immigration and increase deportation of illegal migrants.

- SECURITY -

FILLON: Suggests stripping jihadists who travelled to Syria or Iraq to fight alongside the Islamic State group of their nationality and barring them from returning to France. Would allow municipal police to carry guns and increase prison capacity by 16,000.

JUPPE: Would arrest jihadists returning from Iraq or Syria but not strip them of their nationality. Would place suspected Islamist radicals believed to pose a threat under house arrest and increase prison capacity by 10,000.

- ISLAM & IDENTITY -

FILLON: Has spoken in favour of a national ban on full-body "burkini" Islamic swimsuits. Says migrants must assimilate. "When you enter someone else's house you do not take over, you respect the other," he says.

JUPPE: Opposes national burkini ban and warned against "hysteria" in debate over Muslim integration. Says France's diversity is its strength.

- FOREIGN POLICY -

FILLON: Calls for closer ties with Moscow and the lifting of sanctions imposed on Russia over its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula. Would bring Russia and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime into the US-led anti-Islamic State coalition. Favours closer ties with Iran. In Europe, would work towards a "Europe of nations" that "respects French sovereignty."

JUPPE: Critical of Russian bombardments of the Syrian city of Aleppo and its support for the Assad regime. Accuses Fillon of being a Putin "yes man". Wants to strengthen European defence cooperation. Believes France and Germany should take the lead in Europe.

- GAY ADOPTIONS -

FILLON: Opposed a 2013 gay marriage act. Wants to amend the legislation to prevent same-sex couples having access to plenary adoptions, the preferred choice which gives the child and the adoptive parents the same legal relationship as if the child had been born to the couple. Gay couples would be restricted to "ordinary adoptions" in which the biological parents would have some recognition.

JUPPE: Opposed the gay marriage act but would not come back on same-sex marriage or amend adoption rights.