He was the candidate she feared the most. Not only could he unify his own party, but he could siphon crucial votes from her conservative Catholic base. And now that François Fillon won yesterday's "right and center" primary ahead of next year's presidential election, the far-right French leader Marine Le Pen must shift her strategy.

The low-key Fillon, 62, who served as prime minister from 2007-2012 under Nicolas Sarkozy, outmaneuvered both Sarkozy and favorite Alain Juppé, by appealing to social conservatives and pious Catholics upset about France's new same-sex marriage law. But as an outspoken admirer of Margaret Thatcher, Fillon has also vowed to bring free-market economics to a country largely built on a state-centered economy supported by leaders of both left and right.

His plans to do away with the 35-hour week, including for state-employees, and slash half-a-million state sector jobs would be seen largely as a kind of "shock therapy" that Fillon's opponents, both inside and outside his party, have described as "brutal" and "unworkable."

Le Pen, already desperate to "de-demonize" her image, will use her protectionist and nationalist economic program to seduce the working-class and paint Fillon as the candidate of high finance and corporations.

The triumph of Fillon, paradoxically, might give a new purpose to a devastated Left, with the ruling Socialist party more eager to bash its opponents than talk about its own, dismal, record of the past five years of François Hollande. Unless, of course, the Left gets hijacked by its own free-market advocate, the young and ambitious Emmanuel Macron.

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Society

Germany's Legendary Clubbing Culture Crashes Museum Space

The exhibition “Electro” in Düsseldorf is an unlikely tribute to a joyful and uninhibited club culture, with curators forced to contend with limits of a museum setting ... and another COVID lockdown.

A woman with a "Techno" tattoo in front of the famous Berghain

Boris Pofalla

DÜSSELDORF — The last party at the Berghain nightclub in Berlin lasted from Saturday evening until Monday morning. On the first weekend of December, some clubbers lined up for nine hours outside the former power plant – and still didn’t make it past the doormen. A friend said that dancing in the most famous techno club in the world on its last evening was like landing a spot in the last lifeboat to leave the sinking Titanic on 14 April 1912.

It is surely a coincidence that the first comprehensive exhibition charting the 100-year history of electronic music in Germany opened in the same week that nightclubs across the country were forced to close. It wasn’t planned that way, but it’s like opening an exhibition about the cultural history of alcohol the day after the introduction of prohibition.

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