The surprise frontrunner in France's presidential party primaries has campaigned on longer working weeks and cutting government spending. Could he be the man to lead the Conservatives to victory in next year's election? Laura Frykberg reports.
He's been described as a true economic and social conservative . Politics not normally popular in France. But then again, these are not normal times. Francois Fillon has become the frontrunner in the Conservative Party's presidential primaries. His campaign attributing the success to his grassroots style. (SOUNDBITE) (French) SPOKESMAN FOR FRANCOIS FILLON, JEROME CHARTIER, SAYING: "Francois Fillon's essence is going out and meeting the French, he's been doing that for the past three years, he'll carry on doing that this week and won't change his habits.." The 62-year-old's policies range from raising the retirement age - to cutting public service jobs. He also advocates increasing the number of hours government employees work each week. SOUNDBITE (English) SENIOR FX STRATEGIST, RABOBANK, JANE FOLEY, SAYING: "He's been billed as a support of Thatcher, now for business obviously that's welcome, but whether or not that would work with the French economy - given there is likely to be a lot of resistance from the unions to some of those proposals - it remains to be seen." Now Fillon will fight his closest rival Alain Juppé in the next round of primaries. Whoever wins will have quite a challenge on their hands. They'll not only be up against a candidate from the incumbent Socialist government. But the increasingly popular far-right candidate, Marine le Pen.