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Hollande's Successor Likely to Strengthen French Ties With Putin

Hollande's Successor Likely to Strengthen French Ties With Putin

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Friday, 02 December 2016 06:17 AM Current | Bio | Archive

From Paris to Washington DC, there was genuine shock felt Thursday following the surprise announcement by France's President Francois Hollande that he will not seek re-election next year.

It seems a fairly safe bet to say that either of the two front-runners to replace France's second Socialist president and the first to decline a bid for a second term since the founding of the Fifth Republic in 1958 will bring Paris far closer to Russian President Vladimir Putin than at any time in modern French history.

Ironically, both Francois Fillon of the Republicans (center-right party) and Marine Le Pen of the National Front are admired by many conservatives on the right for reasons unrelated to their positions on Russia.

Fillon is frequently called "the French Thatcher" for his support of the legendary British prime minister's philosophy of slashing government jobs and lowering corporate taxes.

LePen's hard-nosed call for deporting all illegal immigrants from France and opposition to globalism has invited comparisons to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and even the nickname "Trumpette."

Under Hollande, France canceled the sale of two warships to Russia and backed sanctions after the annexation of Crimea. Putin canceled a trip to Paris two years ago after Hollande refused to meet him because of the bombing of Syria.

In contrast, Fillon called for greater understanding of Russia by the French people and for including Russia in efforts to end international turmoil such as in Syria.

As prime minister of France from 2007-12, Fillon oversaw increased trade with Russia and met frequently with the man he calls "Cher Vladimir"—a term of endearment in French. He has opposed admitting Ukraine and Georgia to NATO and called for mediation to end Russia's armed clash with Georgia in 2008.

LePen has long voiced opposition to globalism, called for withdrawal of NATO, an end to French immigration, and an initiative for France to decide whether it wants to remain in the EU—in short, an agenda not very different from Vladimir Putin's.

Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington in November 2011, Le Pen surprised some American fans when she said of Putin: "I admire the way he made the oligarchs stop trying to sell their country in pieces" – a reference to the Putin-orchestrated arrests and trials of billionaire businessmen in Russia.

The most recent Harris Interactive Poll showed that in the initial race for president next May, Fillon edges LePen by 26 to 24 percent, with former Economics Minister Emmanuel Macron (an independent candidate) at 14 percent, and Hollande 9 percent. 

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

 

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From Paris to Washington DC, there was genuine shock felt Thursday following the surprise announcement by France's President Francois Hollande that he will not seek re-election next year.
hollande, france, ties, russia, putin
433
2016-17-02
Friday, 02 December 2016 06:17 AM
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