Day 44 – Round 1: a month less a day

Even you can peek … but for just FOUR week(s)

Nearly 15,000 individuals (both elected and appointed) have, since 2013, been obliged to make a declaration to France’s Authority for Transparency in Public Life (HATVP) on what they own and owe (their patrimoine). False declarations can result in a fine/3 years’ prison.

This Election, for the first time, Presidential Candidates have had to submit to the HATVP a snapshot (1.1.2017) of their properties/bank accounts/cars/companies, with married candidates having to declare anything owned jointly. The Authority has now published those Declarations. To avoid ‘interfering’ with the Election, Declarations are not being verified, each of which is made by the individual ‘sur l’honneur‘ (honour-besmirchment possibly being regarded as weighty). [Much of the site is in English here.]

This has been introduced not merely to satisfy the financially prurient, but rather to reveal any possible links or interests which deserve to be brought to light. Declarations remain online until the 1st round, at which point the two finalists’ Declarations alone will remain.

We see total net ‘wealth’ ranging from Trot Poutou (€32K – his declaration is fun to see) via Le Pen (€630K), Melenchon (€965K) to Ultra-Right-Neo-Lite SEVEN-property-owning Dupont Aignan (€2.3 million). [Aurel, Le Monde‘s cartoonist, has a couple studying a Declaration. He says: ‘Well! Poutou’s got a €20K car. And it’s not even a gift from a friend.” She replies: ‘Flirting with being middle class’. Humour français]

Far more forensic folk than I have done what they can to seek to understand the Declarations: particularly those of Fillon, Le Pen and Macron. An outfit called Anticor (‘Against corruption, for ethics in politics’) set up in 2002 by an investigating magistrate and an ex-Socialist Parliamentary assistant has submitted a claim to the HATVP that there is a ‘lack of coherence’ between Macron’s income and declared wealth.

Some quirky items:

  • Fillon borrowed €30K from his daughter to pay last year’s taxes
  • Fillon increased the value of his consultancy company from €11K to €98K between February 2017 and March 2017 – apparently the accounts just came out
  • Le Pen was lent €2 million last August, and was lent a further €3.6 million in December, by an outfit called COTELEC, her father’s micro-Party, of which €5.4 million is still to be repaid … plus she borrowed €15K from SocGen for ‘general expenses’; where did her father make his wealth?
  • Macron got an advance of €275K for his book ‘Revolution’
  • Macron has no property … but still owes Crédit Mutuel €247K for financing works on a property out of an original loan of €350K; he also has no car; all of which means that despite his previous high banker’s earnings as a banker he only has net wealth of €36K. Odd.
  • Macron owes The State €54K for having quit public service earlier than 10 years after finishing his studies at Ecole Nationale d’Administration

Out on the Streets 

An update for street junkies. Overwhelmed we were by Fillon supporters, at least 15 last Sunday. But for 2 forbidding Le Pen men, Républicains had the market-place entirely to themselves. Socialists had the excuse of Hamon’s public meeting for their absence.

Fillonistes continue distributing their glossy 4 page ‘health’ leaflet: he still suffers from early plans which sounded very like (i) healthcare privatisation and (ii) the State treating major diseases only. We also got an A5 flyer on ’10 key measures of [Fillon’s] programme’:

  • ‘free up the economy to create jobs and increase purchasing power’ – end 35 hr week; lower employers’ contributions & corporate tax/increase small pensions
  • ‘restore the State’s authority and ensure your safety’ – expel illegal immigrants; reduce immigration ‘to a strict minimum with quotas’ [Front National dog-whistle talk]; extra 10,000 police
  • ‘for you, for your children’ – start school at 5 not 6 concentrating on reading, maths, writing and history (sic); fight to ensure medical services everywhere; total reimbursement of the most expensive medical care (optical/dental:aural)

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Le Pen’s leaflet sets out 35 of her 144 ‘Presidential commitments’, under 7 headings:

  • ‘A free France’ (Frexit vote, proportional representation, ‘halve’ number of MPs/Senators, halve ‘levels of administration’, defend women’s rights)
  • ‘A safe France’ (extra 15,000 police, zero tolerance, reinforced national frontiers/no Schengen, legal immigration of net 10,000 [see Fillon above], expel foreigners with fundamentalist Islamic links)
  • ‘A prosperous France’ (intelligent protectionism, retirement at 60, 35 hour week)
  • ‘A fair France’ (keep the wealth tax)
  • ‘A proud France’ (promote secularism, put tricolores on all public buildings and take down Euro-flags)
  • ‘A powerful France’ (defence budget to reach 3% [50% over NATO target])
  • ‘A sustainable France’ (stop uncontrolled globalisation to protect the environment, increase food localism, animal protection a national priority, stop EU plans for liberalisation of railways, Post Office/SNCF to remain public, more public housing).

A heady mix of ‘Nationalism’, ‘Socialism’ and ‘Economic Suicide’. Apart from her signature [what would a graphologist say?] ‘Le Pen’ is mentioned twice at the foot of p. 4.

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Anger

2 days ago – after Le Monde revealed the additional charges (aggravated fraud etc) to be faced by him – Fillon raised the oral stakes, level of paranoia and (probably) distrust of politicians by accusing the ‘services of the State’ of organising a ‘plot’ against him and leaking stuff straight to the newspapers which should remain legally confidential. .

He went much further on France 2 yesterday in a long interview. He accused President Hollande directly: ‘a head of state has never gone so far in illegality … [Hollande] had decided to eliminate the candidate who represents an alternative’. Fillon then referred to a book about to be published (by 2 Canard Enchainé journalists – it’s Love Your Enemy time) allegedly confirming the existence of a Presidential ‘cabinet noir‘ (a clandestine office to harm opponents) – one of the authors denied the book actually says this (in French) while the programme was on air.

One intelligent thing Fillon said on the programme was that he had been ‘wrong to accept the suits … I made an error of judgement’. That was just one error among many. He told us he’d given those pesky suits away. Will someone else soon be declaring those gifts?

Before the end of the show, the Elysée stated they ‘condemned with the greatest possible firmness Mr Fillon’s lying allegations … the Executive has never intervened in any judicial procedure’. While today on radio President Hollande denied any intervention saying he always wholly supported judicial independence. He declared that there was ‘a dignity, a responsibility, to respect. I think that Mr Fillon is now beyond it, or below it.’

All the while, Fillon has been back-pedalling over several elements of his economic programme: not as many VAT increases as initially; the 35 hour week will be ended more gently; cuts to monies for local government less violent than originally … and await a reduction in the 500,000 public sector job losses.

Meanwhile, in further Fillon-related-legal-machinations, a word about M. Marc Joulaud. He was Fillon’s suppléant (substitute): in France, when an MP becomes Minister, someone takes over as their Constituency substitute and acts fully as the MP. M Joulaud got involved in FakeJobsGate by becoming the new employer of Mme Fillon as his ‘Parliamentary Assistant’. M. Joulaud has, this very day, been charged with misuse of public funds.

Back to the TV debate. Fillon hotly denied reports in Le Parisien that he’d been coached live by SMS during it. Does this explain his rather detached Presidential mien? ‘More slander’ he says. Either way, all candidates’ phones are banned from the next TV debate.

And finally on Fillon. We were further reminded of his difficulties this week. The Socialist Home Affairs Minister resigned soon after stories circulated about investigations into his having employed his daughters as ‘Parliamentary Assistants’ during … yes … their school holidays. Nothing in his office Became him like the leaving it.

Right wing electoral catastrophe foretold

There is increasing agitation over the ever-more-likely elimination of Fillon in Round 1 … followed by a draining away of Républicain’s support towards either Macron or Le Pen. Elder statesman ex-Defence Minister Longuet wrote (in French): ‘It is hard to imagine a better-organised public suicide’.

Could this Election bring about the destruction of both the main Left and Right parties: Socialists and Républicains?

Macron

After weeks of rumours, Socialist Defence Minister, Le Drian, announced yesterday that he is the 3rd member of the current Socialist Government who will support Macron. He’s an important addition to Macron’s lengthening list of supporters, rumoured to contain several more Government ministers soon (including maybe Foreign Minister Ayrault) as well as several former right wing Ministers (including Sarkozy’s former Justice Minister) and a possible cavalry of centre-rightist Senators.

For Latin Lovers (geddit?)

Unum erratum et unum corrigendum. Apologies to all and sundry and Mr F. Fillon. I wholly misunderstood the rates charged by Mr Fillon’s company for effecting introductions. I grotesquely thought that clients were charged $50K/introduction … but it was actually $50K for 2. I should, for the sake of good order, add that Mr Fillon has denied receiving any money at all for these introductions. So difficult to know what to believe.

Le Pen

Did Le Pen pay anyone to get to see Putin? Or will she get paid to see him? ‘Sources’ (who they?) claim that this is actually their 3rd meeting (only the 1st to be snapped). Bay, the Front National Gen. Sec, said that (internationally) Le Pen is ‘the least isolated of all the presidential candidates’ with the support of ‘Trump in the west and Putin to the east’. While Le Pen’s Svengali N° 2 Phillipot said on the radio (in French) ‘I can guarantee you 100%. We will not have any funding coming from a Russian bank.’

Ooh Aah! 

Watch it. Legend-lovers will love it (the video’s in English). Better than cider.

Opinion polls

Recent polls show
  • The last 20 polls (bar 2) have Macron and Le Pen each at 25% or more
  • Fillon is c. 18.5% … and has never been over 20% this month
  • Melenchon (13%+) boosted by the TV debate remains ahead of Hamon (11.5%) – maybe it’s Melenchon’s 750K Facebook supporters and 1 million Twitter followers (only Le Pen beats him with 1.3 million on Twitter and 1.2 million on Facebook) – but Melenchon wins hands down with his 242,000 You Tube film followers
  • Dupont-Aignan stays at 5%
  • In twenty March polls  (bar one) Macron gets over 60% in the 2nd round
  • Over 50% now think Macron will become President (only just over 25% would like him to become President!)
  • 80% still say that the campaign has been of bad quality – who can the 20% be who think it’s of good quality?
  • Employment, social protection and purchasing power (44-52%)remain the most important issues … ahead of law and order, terrorism and immigration (36-38%).
  • Nearly two-thirds of Macron voters say they are certain to vote Macron

The Economist (March 24): “Yet nothing can be taken for granted. Polls can be wrong, or change quickly. Mr Fillon’s glimmer of hope is that support for Mr Macron, a newcomer to electoral campaigning, is not solid: some of his backers could switch after a blunder, or if his policies are seen as too liberal. That glimmer is only faint… Assuming Mr Macron does not blunder, the election appears to be his to lose.’

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Day 44 – Round 1: a month less a day

  1. Great edition Richard. One can feel the excitement and the level of intellectual honesty only rivalled in N Ireland and Scotland

    Like

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