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Thatcherite victor vows sharp shock for France

• http://www.thetimes.co, Adam Sage

A Thatcherite reformer is in pole position to become the next president of France after a landslide victory in his party's primary election during which he pledged to sack 500,000 civil servants.

François Fillon, 62, a former prime minister, promised the most radical reforms in modern French history after earning the right to stand as the Republicans party candidate in the presidential election in April.

Speaking to his supporters after sweeping to victory over Alain Juppé, 71, his more consensual challenger, Mr Fillon vowed to breathe new hope into a country that he said could no longer tolerate its loss of prestige.

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