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Sarkozy being out of the equation is great news. Makes Marine Le Pen much less likely to be President.

My predictions have been the death knell for many campaigns in the last year or so, but I confidently predict Francios Fillon as next French premier - and a jolly good Thatcherite he is too.

Thatcher: Dead. But, still winning.
For once I agree with your assessment, not that I think that Fillon will be a good choice as French President.

Le Pen was always going to be a long shot, her best chance was if she had to face a Socialist candidate - I don't have much confidence in centre right voters backing the Socialist rather than Le Pen. Whilst I think centre left voters will reluctantly head to the ballot box to support a centre right candidate against a Front National candidate.
From what I can glean from opinion polls roughly speaking the left candidates for president have about 45% support and the the support for right candidates is 55%. The 2 issues for the left is that they are at the moment in a minority, but also there are 4 or 5 main left groups running a presidential campaign and only 2 main groups on the right, so making unlikely there will be a left candidate in the final presidential run off.

Fillon should beat Juppe to secure the centre right candidacy, but it is not a definite.