BERLIN – Germany's powerful finance minister is praising conservative French presidential candidate Francois Fillon's economic program as strong and says he hopes that far-right leader Marine Le Pen never becomes president in France.
Fillon won France's first-ever conservative presidential primary on Sunday after promising drastic free-market reforms, along with a crackdown on immigration and Islamic extremism. Le Pen is expected to be his toughest competitor in the two-round presidential election in April and May.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, a leading conservative and a key architect of Europe's response to its recent debt troubles, said Tuesday that Fillon's program "has strong plausibility (on) how France could better display its true strengths."
Schaeuble added "to be clear, I hope that Ms. Le Pen never becomes president of France."