Macron’s statement on Algerian TV that French colonisation was a ‘crime against humanity’ has now been amended to be ‘a crime against humans’. He has been pursued all week by the Right/FN. Some FN demonstrators disrupted his meetings. He said publicly ‘I have understood you’ (refererring to a famous de Gaulle speech on Algeria), saying he wants to be President of all the French, attacking the FN (for trying to stir people up – and even keep people away from the meeting) but no apology. [The FT’s former editor, Barber, says this is Macron’s way to get votes from those whose families came from North Africa.]
Qualifying further earlier mis-speaking, Macron rushed straight back to leftish mag. l’Obs and qualified his earlier remarks (in French) about those opposed to gay marriage whom the Government had ‘humiliated’. He said ‘The LGBT community knows my profound attachment to the progress of their rights and will find that I am always their defender’.
Rumours are circulating about Macron’s wealth/expenses. Le Monde‘s Sénécat has fact-checked. He produced a long analysis (in French) of Macron’s ‘wealth’: from when he became Minister (2014) and made a financial declaration. Le Monde asked questions: despite reminders, no reply since Monday from his campaign team..
Fillon goes on and on
He’s definitely going for it. His promise to stand down if he were charged is dustbinned. He is the Républicains’ candidate … regardless. ‘The closer we are to the date of the Presidential Election’ he told right-leaning Le Figaro, ‘the more scandalous it would be to deprive the Right and Centre of a candidate. I leave it up to universal suffrage. My decision is clear. I am the candidate and I will go on until victory’.
Hard Right Républicain MP, Guaino, repeated his call for Fillon to withdraw – ‘madness for the Right’ for him to continue. Guaino’s odd: for 5 years Sarko’s special adviser and speechwriter, he was responsible for Sarko’s ‘Hardest Right’ speeches. His politics (says Wikipedia) are ‘gaulliste, colbertiste, jacobine et assimilationiste‘ [Sorry. Life’s too short. Look them up yourselves]. Guaino also wants to be President so it might be special pleading. He took the line ‘how can you, Fillon, ask the French to make future sacrifices with your record?’. Asked how he would vote in a Le Pen v. Macron run-off, he said he’d go fishing.
Fickle punters. They now want Fillon to stand: 70% of Républicain voters at least (in French). Perhaps they’re only thinking of Jim’s demise, wanting Nurse to stay close at hand ‘for fear of finding something worse‘. [Lots of other lovely Bellociana there too.]
Left and Hard Left
Bloomberg put out a really strange report: the chances of Melenchon withdrawing had significantly increased. This would result in 1 Hamon being the sole candidate of The Left. 2 Hamon finishing ahead of both Fillon and Macron in the 1st Round vote. 3 Le Pen being more likely to win the Presidential Election. 4 Bankers fretting.
This sounds unbelievably unlikely. Almost fake news. Melenchon’s profoundly Eurosceptic ego will not give way to Hamon’s Europhile one. On Friday, Melenchon said he didn’t intend to ‘hang on to a hearse’ [the Socialist Party] while Hamon’s adviser said he regretted that Melenchon had ‘closed the door’ on discussions. Le Monde characterises their exchanges as ‘the dialogue of the deaf’ which is becoming ‘vaudeville’.
The two are still supposed to meet next Friday. But Melenchon added to the harmonious mood, complaining bitterly that Hamon had asked his economics adviser Piketty to produce a paper on a ‘Eurozone Parliament’: utter anathema to Melenchon.
Fiducial’s daily poll (17 Feb) showed a further drop in Macron’s 1st round vote by 1 point (assuming Bayrou stands). That put Macron and Fillon on 18.5% each (Le Pen still steady at 26%). A further sign of the slow bursting of The Macron Bubble? He will sure need a change programme that’s exciting and radical, when it’s finally published.
Travel broadens your …
… chances of looking Présidentiable.
Le Pen’s off to Lebanon for 2 days. Macron was there last month. Fillon would have gone but for FakeJobsGate. Melenchon and Hamon are both said to be considering going. Is it Lebanon’s less than 20,000 French voters that draw the candidates? A good place to make your views on the Middle East known? Possibly some wealthy, influential people to meet?
Hamon’s just done 36 hours in Portugal. There a Socialist Government won power, against the odds, by getting support from its Hard Left. Hamon also likes Portugal’s anti-austerity programme as well as their decriminalisation of drugs programme – he wants to make a start in France with cannabis.
As for Fillon’s 3 days in La Réunion? Well, at least there are some 600,000 French voters.
Find me a poissonnier. Yes, here it’s the fishmonger (not the taxi-driver) who provides deep background on the political scene. Our Man in the Marketplace worries that all too many punters – disillusioned by the absence of political debate plus Fillon’s financial imbroglios – will just stay at home on Jour J and … that will lead to Président Le Pen.
[My sole attempt to discuss Matters Political with a sort-of-taxi-driver was an uber-polite Chinese Uber driver in London driving to Eurostar. He wanted to know about Uber in France. Why was Uber so unloved? In exchange I asked him his thoughts on the judgment that all Uber drivers were ‘workers’. Was he pleased with all the extra money and social protection he would now have? What I got was an all-out defence of his desire/right/need to be self-employed. The full pro-Uber speech. He was well-briefed.]