Francois Fillon and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, June 2007.
Fabrizio Bensch / REUTERS

Next year, French and German voters will go to the polls to select their parliaments and leaders. The current frontrunners are François Fillon, the former French prime minister, who emerged from primaries over the weekend with a strong mandate to be the candidate for the center-right, and long-serving German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who recently announced that she will seek a fourth term.

Both would face daunting tasks. They would be in charge of steering the European Union through Brexit while continuing to face down Russian assertiveness. Absent the United Kingdom and with an unpredictable new administration in the United

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