Day 96 – ‘Can Fillon hold on?’ (Le Monde front page )

Infamy? Calumny?

Enquiries continue: did Fillon’s wife do any real work for him as a Parliamentary assistant? His Parliamentary offices have been searched by the police. Interviews are being conducted. Today’s ‘Canard Enchainé’ apologetically reports their major under-estimate of Mme Fillon’s serious-pay-for-questionable-work (now said to be €830K over 8 years – up from last week’s €500K).

Fillon had accused the journal, among other things, of misogyny. This is ironic says ‘Canard Enchainé’: Fillon paid his not-yet-lawyer-son-for-his-work-as-a-lawyer 27% more than his 4 years older not-yet-lawyer-daughter-for-her-work-as-a-lawyer. The Grand Total of ‘suspect salaries’ paid to Fillon family members has now effortlessly gone past the million euro mark.

Fillon is fulminating against a campaign of calumny (and possibly infamy too). At this morning’s packed meeting of his fellow Républicain MPs he denounced a ‘coup d’Etat institutionnel de la gauche’. He said that nerves had to be held for 2 weeks – having previously announced that if he were charged he would stand down. 2 Républicain MPs called today for Fillon’s replacement by Juppé. In the meantime, Fillon’s stalled campaign has become (says Le Monde using appropriate language for M. Fillon) The Stations of the Cross, while in his wake the entire Right is living in Calvary

Today’s opinion poll shows the effect of Fillon’s nightmare: down 5 percentage points in 4 weeks to 3rd place with around 20%. This would mean a Macron v Le Pen run-off. The latter conclusion seems still more likely when we read that Sarkozy’s kith and kin are letting it be known that many MPs have been calling or meeting Sarkozy.

Le Pen: trying it on for size

Le Pen’s first soi-disant ‘Presidential Conference’ was held last Thursday. The invitation:ce-carton-d-invitation-tres-presidentiel-de-marine-le-penThe usual subjects (does the list below remind you of anyone?) were put aside. Silence on

  • immigration – cut to 10,000/year with a severe reduction in family members being allowed in; 2 months ago Le Pen announced to “foreigners” that “If you come to our country, don’t expect to be taken care of or treated, or that your children will get free education.” She concluded “No more playtime”. Later her spokesperson said she was talking of illegal immigrants
  • referendum on the Euro, with the aim of ‘a national currency’ for daily use, and a separate one for use by major corporations
  • raising the minimum wage/pensions, earlier retirement at 60, housing preference for French nationals, enabling the 39 hour working week (but paid 39 hours unlike Fillon’s)

She only dealt with the environment at the ‘Conference’, calling for a ‘zero-carbon’ economy, more organic agriculture and continuing opposition to multinational corporations like Monsanto and genetically modified crops.

On Saturday, Le Pen kicks off her campaign in Lyon – chosen because it was the capital of Gaul. She will unveil (hardly an appropriate word for her) 140 policies. Policies will be grouped under 7 thematic headings such as ‘Une France libre’ and ‘Une France juste’ … and to show that her Environment Conference was not mere publicity, even ‘Une France durable’ (‘sustainable’)

This weekend, Lyon will be the centre of the political universe. Centrist Macron will launch several campaign initiatives at his fit-to-burst jumbo Lyon rally. He will set out 10 priority reforms that every Macronite candidate for the subsequent Parliamentary Elections will be required to sign up to. Finally hard left Melenchon (Rebellious France) will also be in Lyon to reject, with vigour, everything uttered by the other two.

Euro-Parliament-wise, Le Pen has refused to re-pay those illegally paid €300K wages. So her own Euro-MP pay will now be halved and expenses slashed to recover the money.

Left Re-United?

The Green candidate is having difficulty finding 500 signatories for his candidature – hints of a rapprochement have been floated, with talk of a single candidate representing the ‘progressive, ecologist Left’. Small steps. BUT those reading below the headline of the above opinion poll will see an even higher dead cat bounce for Hamon: he’s flying close to Fillon with around 17%? Who could have known robot-taxing could be so popular as a political programme? (As The Economist pointed out robots have no vote.) But whatever Hamon manages to do in the Presidential Election, surely catastrophe lies ahead for the Socialists in June’s Parliamentary Elections.

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