Complaints, I’ve had a few; But then again, too few to mention.
[Still. A couple of non-FAQs deserve a response.]
Why such a long cast-list? It’s a consequence of a Presidential system in a near-endlessly changing political Party system with constant changes of name, and sometimes politics too. Name-changing is by no means confined to far left groupuscules. The centre-right traditional ‘Gaullist’ conservative “Les Républicains”, created in 2015, thus achieved their 11th re-incarnation since 1947.
7 Socialists, 4 Greens and 7 Républicains participated in their Parties’ respective Primaries. The expected winner in each case lost out to a semi-insurgent, usually the Third Man. Those 3 eventual winners – each seen as perhaps representing but a wing of their respective Party – join 7 other almost certain Presidential candidates. No candidate can stand unless (s)he obtains the required minimum ‘500 signatures’ on their nomination papers. Those who can sign are MP’s, Senators and locally elected councillors representing at least 30 French Departments.
Your roll-call of other candidates: 2 Trots (Arthaud, Workers’ Struggle and Poutou, New Anticapitalist Party), Communist-supported hard left Melenchon (‘Unsubdued France’), centrist Blairite Macron, Le Pen and hard right Dupont-Aignan (‘France Arise’). Maybe also a man who has already stood twice for President: Cheminade (Solidarity and Progress). Writing a blog may be a strange occupation, but if you have more time to spare have a read of this. I particularly like the idea of Cheminade fighting in 1982 for freedom from “British domination of American foreign policy”. What a sheltered life I’ve led.
Sorry. One further final Candidate may be added to the burgeoning list: thrice-Presidential-candidate centrist liberal François Bayrou (Democratic Movement). 2007’s Third Man with 18.6% in that year’s 1st round. He is no fan of either conservative Fillon or centrist Macron. If Bayrou stands, then Macron’s chances of being in the top 2 are certainly affected.
Other candidates, unsurprisingly, are available. Wikipedia France gives you 50+ folk, many of whom have long been Signature-Searching.
100 Day countdown
French readers will have seen confusing references in certain newspapers to a totally different countdown; eg Les Echos is today at 82 days, and I’m 15 days behind. They are way ahead of me because their Jour J (D Day for anglophones) is the 1st round of the Presidential Election. Newspapers necessarily assume that a President could win Round 1 through one candidate getting more than 50% of votes cast. Anyone wishing (foolishly) to throw money away on this wager should avoid betting unless the odds way exceed Leicester’s 5000-1 last year.
I will stick with my 100 Days – my Final Blog Post (if I get that far) should appear on Election Day (Round 2). Equally, I will resist the temptation to adopt Les Echos’ living countdown showing ever-changing Days, Hours, Minutes and (yes) Seconds until The Midnight Hour.
Marine Le Pen
Why only these occasional glancing references to her? I really will have to summon up reserves of energy to write something more weighty.
In the meantime, here’s a very worthwhile very Long Read on Le Pen’s powerful and intelligent campaign strategist.
And, in still further sleaze news, by midnight today Le Pen must have repaid €340,000 to the European Parliament in respect of her 2 members of staff who worked full time on non-EU-Parliament matters. One, allegedly a Euro-Parliamentary assistant, actually worked for Le Pen for 6 years from 2010 full time at the Front National’s French HQ. Other candidates would be damaged by such news (see below) – but not her it seems. Her supporters and voters just ignore it. Remind you of anyone?
After the allegations about his wife’s employment, eyebrows were raised higher when a story emerged over the weekend about seven €3000 cheques Fillon might have received from some black box when a Senator 10 years ago. The Independent commented “Fraud is business as usual in French politics”. Le Monde described Fillon’s week as ‘nightmarish’, commenting that his team feared that opinion polls would show Fillon’s support bleeding away to both Le Pen and Macron, despite more goodies being promised to the retired in his ever-developing programme .