François Fillon

François Fillon – the story of a Sarthe man with a national destiny

He was one of the great figures of French political life. This native of Sarthe, well rooted in his territory, has managed to make his way to the highest levels of government. A committed student who was already sure of his convictions, François Fillon always knew that he would have a destiny turned towards France. From his fiefdom in the Sarthe to the Matignon Palace, he has known and met the greatest names in the history of the Fifth Republic.


François Fillon has always claimed his attachment to his home region. He started his career as an elected official and always defended the interests of his region, even during his national rise. Born on 4 March 1954 in Le Mans, he is the eldest of four boys. His father was a local notary and his mother a historian and university professor. Two parental visions on how to approach political life and society that will forge the convictions of a future statesman always on the same line. This strength of character and assertive temperament were confirmed very early on. In particular, when his mother opposed the idea of going to Spain, which was still under Franco’s regime, he took up the cause of her and opposed his father. He was already full of Republican convictions that could not be silenced in the face of the dictatorship imposed in Spain.


François Fillon attended the local school in the small town of Cérans-Foulletourte. He then continued his studies at a private school in Parigné-le-Pôlin, Saint-Michel des Perrais. He was soon noticed when he was temporarily excluded after throwing a tear bulb in the middle of class. He then continued his school career at the lycée Notre-Dame de Sainte Croix in Le Mans. There too, he was given a disciplinary section and a few days’ exclusion after organising a student rally to demand the resignation of an English teacher. His political awareness and desire for commitment were born. He was described in his school reports as a dunce and undisciplined student. These two terms would not define him at all in the rest of his professional life. On the contrary, he developed a hard-working, ambitious and combative character. After barely passing his literary baccalaureate in 1972, his first career choice was to go into journalism. He did two summer internships with AFP, in two agencies abroad. The first was in Spain and the second in Belgium. In the end, he went on to study law and passed a master’s degree in public law in 1976 at the University of Maine, in Le Mans. He continued with a postgraduate diploma in public law at the University of Paris-Descartes.


As a child of the Sarthe region, François Fillon was brought up with a love of motor sports and in particular of the mythical Le Mans 24-hour race. He fell into it at primary school with the Austin-Healey stable set up just opposite the boys’ school in the 1960s. As soon as he left school, the young François ran to admire the racing models installed in the hotel-restaurant of the East Crescent. He shares this passion with his brother Pierre. Eager for wide open spaces and freedom, he fell in love with the mountains and all the activities that can be found there. He has always been attracted to action and to surpassing oneself, and in mountaineering and hiking he finds all the adrenalin and the rise in sensations that he misses. He joined the scouts because he found the discipline, camaraderie and uprightness he needed to shape his political character. He even took over the leadership of a troop at the age of 17. The responsibility for many people did not frighten him. He easily asserts himself as a leader and leads in an orderly, efficient and serious manner. He is a perfect example of self-control and will demonstrate this in his successful political career.


A confirmed and assertive social Gaullist, François Fillon remains a lover and defender of the land and the values of rural France. He will always stand up for his home region and will remain a Sarthe native by heart and blood.


The young graduate in public law entered the political sphere in 1976 as a parliamentary assistant to Joël Le Theule, then deputy for the Sarthe. He was also the campaign manager of the latter during the 1978 legislative elections. This election was the fourth time he won the seat of deputy. He was also his deputy chief of staff when the latter was successively Minister of Transport and Minister of Defence.

In 1977, François Fillon joined the RPR (Rassemblement pour la République), only one year after its creation by Jacques Chirac. It was under the colours of this party that he ran for his first elected mandate. In February 1981, he was elected with 76% of the votes as general councillor of the Sarthe in the canton of Sablé-sur-Sarthe. He followed this up with a victory in the first round of the 1981 legislative elections with 50.14% of the vote. This victory was all the more impressive as it came at the same time as the election of the socialist François Mitterrand as President of the Republic. A left-wing wave swept through parliament. Never before seen in the Fifth Republic. François Fillon took his seat in the Bourdon Palace and became the youngest parliamentarian in the history of the 20th century. He became close to Philippe Seguin, another young right-wing MP elected at the time of the rise of the left to power.

He obtained a large victory in the 1983 municipal elections by winning the mayor’s office in Sablé-sur-Sarthe with 68.05% of the votes. He kept a particular attachment to this town and made it his place of refuge in the moments of doubt that mark the life and career of a politician. Continuing his drive to renew the political class, he became the youngest regional president in April 1992 and took the chair of the Sarthe General Council. A second feat to his credit.


It is by relying on his victories in the department and in the region that François Fillon was able to rise to the spheres of political power at the national level. However, he did not leave his fiefdom aside and supported his wife Penelope during her mandate as a municipal councillor in Solesmes in 2014.

It was in this commune that they bought the Château de Beaucé in 1984. A sort of bastion that gives him a physical attachment to his region of heart and birth. He will give a lot of himself at national level to allow the development of beautiful projects at local level. He played his role as an elected representative of the people perfectly by defending the interests of his region and by setting up plans to modernise and attract the suburbs of Le Mans. Even when he reached the highest steps of power and settled in the Hôtel de Matignon, he kept an eye and an ear on his region.

Like during his speech on 25 November 2011 in Sablé-sur-Sarthes on the future of the automobile. During this event, he honoured and recalled all the ties that exist between the history of the automobile and the region of his childhood. The visit to the VALEO factory will give him great pride as a Sabolian and great hope for the future of the automotive industry in our country and especially in his region. He will remain connected and always aware of new developments in the Sarthe region.


At a very young age, François Fillon reached the national level by starting as a deputy in 1981. Only 5 years after his graduation, he took his seat in parliament and started to assert his political convictions within his party, the RPR. He supported the duo Philippe Seguin and Charles Pasqua during the 1990 congress, which aimed to challenge Jacques Chirac for the presidency of the party. This even cost him his place in the national bureau.


However, his destiny will quickly evolve and take height because of his accession to various ministries during the last presidency of Mr Mitterrand in 1993. Indeed, under the government of Mr Edouard Balladur, then Prime Minister, he became Minister for Higher Education and Research for more than two years. At the same time, he was re-elected deputy with more than 58% of the votes. He thus began this new phase of his republican career under the best possible auspices. He remained in this position for the whole of Mr Balladur’s term of office. He wanted to reform the university system in depth by advocating autonomy and by separating the training of school teachers from that of secondary school teachers. This reform was censured by the Constitutional Council. After Jacques Chirac’s victory in the 1955 presidential elections and under the government of Prime Minister Alain Juppé, he was entrusted with the Ministry of Information Technology and the Post Office. He was responsible for ending the monopoly, modernising France Télécom and ensuring the transition to the opening up of its capital. This is a delicate and arduous task given the importance of the cultural heritage of this state organisation. Unfortunately, following the dissolution of the National Assembly by the current president in 1997 and the return of the left to the hemicycle, Mr. Fillon’s ministerial career came to an end. It was not until Mr. Chirac’s second term in office in 2002 that he found his way back to a ministry. Jean-Pierre Raffarin, Prime Minister at the time, entrusted him with the Ministry of Social Affairs, Labour and Solidarity. One of the main reforms he initiated when he took over this portfolio was the 2003 pension reform. After the defeat of the Right in the 2004 regional elections, he became Minister of National Education, Higher Education and Research. number three in the government, he became number two following the resignation of Nicolas Sarkozy. He did not join Dominique De Villepin’s government on 1 June 2005 and started to prepare the 2007 presidential campaign alongside Nicolas Sarkozy.


Major supporter of Nicolas Sarkozy during the 2007 presidential election, he asserted himself as one of the pillars of the right and continued to prove his value as a man of the field by going before the French people during this election, which marked a turning point in French political life. Indeed, all the heavyweights of the different parties have been replaced and the generation that made its debut in the 1980s is now in charge of the different political bodies. On 6 May 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy was elected President of the French Republic and on 17 May 2007, by official announcement, François Fillon was given the post of Prime Minister. It is one of the most beautiful achievements of his long career in politics. He doubled this with a feat under the Fifth Republic by remaining in this position throughout the President’s term. A unique case which makes him the longest resident of the Hôtel de Matignon. He will once again make his mark by creating a political opening within his government by bringing in personalities from different sides and political convictions. Thus he trusted and entrusted key positions to the UDF, the Socialist Party, the left and civil society. François Fillon made the idea of parity a reality by choosing to appoint eight men and seven women to the various ministries. He therefore tightened his staff and reduced the number of state secretariats.

Criticised for being more discreet and self-effacing, he was no less effective and carried out major reforms at the same time. As usual, and as with all his previous terms in office, he takes office quietly and without much fanfare. However, he took major decisions and set up important reform projects. He remains in place after the ministerial reshuffle of 14 November 2010 and brings into the government former key figures of French political life such as Alain Juppé at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Xavier Bertrand at the Ministry of Labour. He remains steadfast in the face of the opposition’s attacks and will stay the course of the programme on which Nicolas Sarkozy was elected.


After the 2012 presidential election, he became one of the favourite personalities of the French. From there, a presidential project takes shape that he will have the time to develop during 5 years. He went round his supporters and measured his popularity rating. Contrary to the outgoing president, he keeps a good image and embodies a more moderate sense of state. This allows him to consider many supporters on the right and to believe in a possible opening to the left.


This seizure of power can only be achieved through a local elected mandate in the capital. This is why, as early as 2011, he prepared the campaign for the 2012 legislative elections by running for the seat of deputy of the second district of Paris. François Fillon won the second round against a socialist candidate with 56.46% of the votes. Following this victory, he announced his official candidacy for the presidency of the UMP on 30 June 2012. Opposed to Jean-François Copé, both men claimed victory on the evening of the results. This will lead to a political and media storm which will result in the creation of a group of sixty-nine parliamentarians within the UMP group in the assembly.

From then on, François Fillon no longer hid his presidential intentions and announced during an official trip to Japan on 9 May 2013 that he would be a candidate in the UMP primaries for the 2017 presidential elections. He gathered his supporters and created an association called “Force Républicaine” which opened branches in all departments. After the resignation of Jean-François Copé from the presidency of the UMP, he formed a triumvirate with Alain Juppé and Jean-Pierre Raffarin while waiting for an extraordinary congress scheduled for October 2014. It is during this short period that he will be able to show his abilities as a unifier and leader of a right wing that does not know exactly where it is going.

The right-wing primary will be a first test for him because he is not leading in the polls. He is well ahead of Alain Juppé, Nicolas Sarkozy and Bruno Lemaire. However, he does not believe in polls and maintains a straight and firm course with a slogan that clearly marks his state of mind “The courage of truth”. He is carrying out shock and important reforms that he wants to defend in order to breathe new life into France. On the evening of the first round, he created a surprise by coming out on top with 44.1% of the votes, ahead of Alain Juppé who received 28.6% of the votes. This victory marked a turning point in his political career. The presidential election is very close. On 27 November 2016, he was chosen to represent the right with 66.5% of the votes.


François Fillon embodies a moderate, renewed right-wing that wants to get out of the old alliances and petty arrangements between friends. His programme includes strong and important reforms that he will defend.

He takes a stand on important issues at both national and European level. He wants to negotiate a fiscal harmonisation of the member countries, to achieve fiscal convergence, to reduce public deficits, to renegotiate the directive on posted workers, to give Europe independence from the IMF and to reject the terms of the free trade treaties Tafta and CETA. At the international level, he wants to support and develop the Francophonie, establish a strategic partnership with China and make development policy a major axis of foreign policy.

His programme tackles the major problems that France has been facing for decades. He wants to promote research and innovation, develop measures to help women victims of violence and, in the same field, make gender equality a priority, particularly within his future government. He wants to bring the health insurance system back into balance by 2022 and highlight French hospital know-how. Better cohesion and cooperation between private and public medicine is also part of his programme. He also wants to make a major breakthrough by introducing a reimbursement of innovative drugs.

François Fillon does not put aside any problem or awkward question and claims to be an enlightened and new socialist Gaullism. Topics such as religion with the improvement of the financing of places of worship, in particular Muslims, in return for increased transparency are not ignored.

In the results of the first round, he will come third with 20.01% of the votes, behind Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. He will take full responsibility for this defeat and will not ignore the accusations and defamations that may have resurfaced during his rise in the polls. François Fillon will not ignore them and will not hide behind them to explain this defeat of the right. It will be the first presidential election in the history of the Fifth Republic where the right will not be present. A page is turning for French politics and for the traditionalist parties. François Fillon retires from politics and leaves the presidency of his association Force Républicaine to Bruno Retailleau. He was recruited by Tikehau Capital, a French investment and asset management company on 1 September 2017. On 8 December 2017, he was appointed President of the International Automobile Federation’s Manufacturers’ Commission. He reconnects with one of his first passions and the history of his region of Sarthe. Updated on 14/03/2020 : the trial against Mr Fillon ended on 11/03/2020 with indictments that made people jump Miss Sophie de Menthon when the prosecutor dared to draw a parallel with the death penalty of the old regime. For their part, the magistrates of the financial prosecutor’s office have often used tendentious formulas by relegating Penelope Fillon to the rank of her husband’s victim or simple wife. This was not missed by the defence lawyers.
The trial prosecutor #Fillon has a problem?! To say in the introduction that what the accused did was “punishable by death by hanging under the old regime”! No matter what one thinks of F.Fillon: this partisan and outrageous justice is inadmissible and unjust. Sophie de Menthon on its account twitter on 11/03/2018

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