PARIS — France’s former president, Nicolas Sarkozy, conceded defeat Sunday in the race to choose the conservative nominee for next year’s presidential election.
With more than 3.2 million votes counted from about 80 percent of polling stations, former prime minister Francois Fillon had 44 percent, former prime minister Alain Juppe had 28.1, and Sarkozy had 21.1 percent.
The two candidates who win the most votes advance to the Nov. 27 runoff.
Fillon has enjoyed a strong boost in popularity in recent weeks thanks to his image of authority and seriousness compared to Sarkozy’s more brazen demeanor.
The campaign was marked by concerns about immigration and Islamic extremism.
Donald Trump’s election as US president was on many voters’ minds, as France faces its own wave of populism.
The conservative nominee is expected to have strong chances of winning the presidential election, because rivals on the left have been weakened by Socialist Francois Hollande’s troubled presidency.