The comeback of Nicolas Sarkozy is officially and permanently dead. Earlier today Sarkozy Conceded Defeat as Fillon Causes Upset in Primary.

The political comeback of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy ended abruptly on Sunday when he conceded he would not be reaching the run-off of the centre right primaries to fight the presidential campaign next year.

A late surge of support for François Fillon caused a major upset, as about 4m voters headed to the polls in the first step of a process expected to give France its next president.

A few hours after polling stations closed, the 62-year-old former prime minister, long the third man in the race, was leading in most polling stations, belying predictions that Alain Juppé, the former prime minister and until recently the favourite, would face Mr Sarkozy in a second round in seven days’ time.

Mr Fillon attracted 44 per cent of the votes in polling stations representing more than half the voters, according to the High Authority supervising the primary. Mr Juppé followed with 28 per cent of the votes. In those stations, Mr Sarkozy came third with 20.7 per cent.

Mr Fillon, a conservative Catholic who has developed a free-market platform and advocated a rapprochement with Russian President Vladimir Putin, said: “Everywhere the French told me of their desire for freedom, authority and respect. I spare a special thought for Nicolas Sarkozy who was president of France.”

On Sunday, he emphasised the need to prevent the resurgent far-right party National Front from reaching power in the presidential run-off next year.

Voters did not need to be party members or even sympathisers to take part in this groundbreaking centre-right primary. All registered voters were allowed to cast their ballot for one of the seven contenders provided they paid €2 and signed a charter stating they respected centre-right Republican values. Yet 15 per cent of those who intended to vote were leftwing sympathisers.

Surprise, Surprise

The EU nannycrats were undoubtedly hoping for the return of a Sarkozy-Merkel alliance but they can kiss that prospect goodbye.

“Today was a surprise, but next Sunday will be another surprise,” said Juppé.

Is he anticipating the possibility of coming in second place again?

Next Sunday

If Fillon beats Juppé in round two of the primaries, He will likely square off against National Front candidate Marine le Pen.

Le Pen vs. Fillon

Le Pen is anti-Euro and anti-EU. Both are pro-Russia to the dismay of the nannycrats.

I like that match-up. I am staunchly free-trade. If Fillon is true to his beliefs, he will not seek to punish the UK. Moreover, the EU loses something either way.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock