French Election: Fillon’s Fate Hinges on Paris Rally

PARIS (AP) – The Latest on France’s presidential campaign (all times local):

3:40 p.m.

Waving French flags in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, thousands have gathered to show support for conservative Francois Fillon’s troubled presidential candidacy.

The Paris rally could be Fillon’s last stand, amid growing pressure on him to quit the race because of corruption allegations.

Dozens of buses brought supporters from around France, while riot police stood guard around the Place de Trocadero.

Retirees Luc and Marie Houllier braved rainy, blustery weather to denounce what they see as a politically-driven investigation of taxpayer-funded jobs for Fillon’s family.

Luc said that “he is the only one who can raise France up again.”

Fillon’s chances for the April-May two-round election have fallen since the corruption allegations emerged.

Older people, who make up Fillon’s most loyal voter base, constituted a large part of Sunday’s crowd, along with parents of young children.

Counter-demonstrations are also being held.

11:00 a.m.

France’s presidential campaign is facing a potential turning point as conservative candidate Francois Fillon, facing corruption charges, holds a rally that could determine whether he stays in the race.

Sunday’s rally across from the Eiffel Tower is meant to gauge Fillon’s remaining support after numerous defections by allies. They’re disillusioned by how he has handled the investigation into allegations he arranged parliamentary jobs for his wife and children that they never performed.

Fillon’s wife Penelope urged her husband to stay in the race in a newspaper interview published Sunday. They deny wrongdoing.

If Fillon quits, many conservatives want Alain Juppe to run in his place for the two-round April-May vote. Fillon was once the front-runner but polls now favor centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen.


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