Matters Judicial: Part 1 – La République en Marche
In the juridico-political jungle biggish beasts are being stirred (and possibly shaken).
First, the somewhat injudicious not-yet-judicial matter (it’s certainly complex) involving one Richard Ferrand, former Socialist Député, aka The Breton Who Joined Macron On Day One. For months his reward had been his appointment as General Secretary of the En Marche Party. But he’s now ended up with the seriously important role of Minister of Territorial Cohesion. If only those gigantic issues of territorial lack-of-cohesion can be addressed that would be a huge advance.
Yet. Last week Le Canard Enchainé
dished the dirt. Here’s the BBC’s brief explanation
of The Affair. Francophones will enjoy France Info
‘s far more detailed
‘Six not-so-stupid questions to understand everything about the Richard Ferrand affair’.
However even the latter expanded version – with its references to ‘ rhetoric heating up’ – might not have led one to expect that an ‘affair’ involving the leasing out of a property to a person who’s his ‘companion’ but neither wife nor partner PLUS employing his son for €4000-worth of parliamentary activity would have so quickly expanded Topsy-like.
Every day, since last Wednesday, a few more morsels appeared. Still, each day, Ferrand apparently continued to have the entire, reiterated, support of both President and Prime Minister. All contrary evidence was batted away.
But today’s front page leads ought surely to have changed the tone:
- Le Parisien: over a pic of Ferrand: ‘Raising moral standards: when’s that for?’ and
- Le Monde: ‘Richard Ferrand, an enquiry … head of Mutuelles de Bretagne 1998-2012, several of those close to him benefited from contracts, among them his ex-wife and his companion … he hired, as Parliamentary Assistant, without revealing it, the companion of his successor at the head of Mutuelles de Bretagne‘. Inside, 2 pages of Ferrand anecdotes. Illegal? Perhaps not. But certainly far from tasteful.
Right and Left have suddenly found a subject with which to beat the hitherto untouchable Executive. They dream this may help win them some seats. The right have gone wittily ape on Twitter: modifying the former much-used anti-Fillon hashtag #RendsLargent [Pay back the money] into #FerrandLargent.
Surely, I thought, Mr Ferrand will be cast adrift to float away, so calling a halt to unnecessary distractions. But no. During the day, Ferrand himself admitted the ‘facts’ but refuted and condemned the suspicions surrounding his ‘affairs’.
PM Philippe himself turned up on the 8pm news tonight, batting away questions about Ferrand’s departure. ‘[He] can stay in the Government. I have fully understood and taken account of the exasperation, the emotions and the irritation of the French’.
Evidently, this PM’s not for turning. Cue that irresistible old warhorse of a cliché:
Matters Judicial: Part 2 – All Political Parties Under The Sun
A new name has emerged from the undergrowth of the Ultra-Right: Sophie Montel.
Member of the Front National for 30 years, daughter of two FN parents, a Burgundy Regional Councillor for 19 years and Euro-MP since her 2014 election. Active participant in the FN’s ‘clean-up’ campaign, she calls herself ‘neither right nor left’. 4 times candidate to be Députée, she last lost in a bye-election where she ended up with 48.6% of the vote … and is standing once again.
Latterly, Montel has been Présidente of the new FN groupuscule ‘The Patriots’. The latter was created by Ecole nationale d’administration-qualified [indeed, those énarques are to be found almost everywhere] Philippot, who remains Le Pen’s national Socialist guru, with the objective of ‘supporting Marine Le Pen in the Front National’s reconstruction’.
Montel perhaps felt it unfair that accusations of illegal gravy-train funding of Euro-MPs and Assistants were wholly focused on the FN. So in March she denounced 19 Euro-MPs (4 Socialists, 7 Républicains, Green, MoDem etc) and 30 Parliamentary assistants to both the Paris judicial authorities and the Euro-anti-fraud organism (Olaf) for hands-in-tillery.
This is a weensy bit more piquant a tale than usual since one of those denounced Euro-MPs is Marielle de Sarnez, Minister of European Affairs. She’s counter-attacked (as has a denounced assistant too) by reporting Montel to the French police for ‘false accusations’. Sarnez strongly asserts that her assistant’s role was specifically understood and approved by the Euro-Parliament. Watch this space.
For anyone actually counting, that makes 2 Ministers out of 22 under clouds of various density … in, yes, under a fortnight.
Matters Judicial: Part 3 – Fillon
Fillon once again bested his tormentors (aka The Beastly Press) by turning up for his meeting with the judges about fictional employment a day early, ie yesterday (when, I feel sure, his troubles didn’t seem so far away). Foiled the press again. He was there for under 2 hours: no comment from either his lawyer or the judiciary.
Matters Judicial: Part 4 – Mélenchon
Cazeneuve was The Last Socialist PM For The Foreseeable Future. Before being PM, he was Minister of Home Affairs, a role he held when (3 years ago) a militant ecologist was killed by a gendarme throwing a flash grenade during a demo against the Sivens dam construction.
Mélenchon’s rhetoric is getting substantially the better of him. Has he finally recognised the unlikelihood of his Party being the largest?
At a public meeting – and then repeated for good effect on TV – Mélenchon said Cazeneuve was ‘the guy in charge of Rémi Fraisse’s murder. He was the guy who made them gas and beat people up at every demonstration, who’s now the saintly hypocrite who says I’m the one who doesn’t know how to choose between the Front National and I don’t know who’. [Cazeneuve had condemned Mélenchon for political and moral failure by refusing to call clearly for a Macron vote against Le Pen]
Cazeneuve is now suing Mélenchon for defamation.
It takes a while for the New World Order to be recognised
Each political party is given time to broadcast on public TV: 3 hours in all is available before the 1st round and a further 90 minutes before Round 2. Dividing up that ‘precious’ broadcasting cake continues to be based on the result of the preceding Parliamentary Elections. So the Socialists have been given 2 hours and the Républicains 1h44!
Johnny-come-lately parties, unfortunately for them, don’t get much of a look-in. Parties that don’t have enough members to form a Parliamentary group (ie a minimum of 15 Députés) have to survive on 7 minutes in the 1st Round and 5 minutes in the 2nd.
La République en Marche wants to overturn this relic of the Good Old Days. The Constitutional Council will be asked to give its opinion on the anomaly affecting them, Mélenchon’s France Insoumise and the Front National – whose 3 candidates, remember, received two-thirds of the votes in the Presidential Election’s 1st Round.
Out on the streets
Sitting Républicain Député Morange was nowhere to be seen last Sunday morning. Hardly surprising: with only 2 more precious Sunday mornings before Round 1 he had decided to go elsewhere to squeeze flesh, kiss babies and remind punters what was at stake. And the Républicain circus had left town with him. Not a Républicain soul in sight.
However Mme Pouzyreff (the Presidential Party’s candidate) seems to believe you get a better quality of passer-by in the usual market-place. The LREM circus was still well and truly here. For her/their sake I hope someone’s telling them how to campaign in a Constituency with several other towns
A moderately appropriate song is embedded here for those lucky enough to be perusing this on the site.
We also got a copy of the candidate’s leaflet.
Her ‘5 Local Priorities’ are vacuity personified.
Ipsos polled 2000 over the weekend.
- President’s Party 29%
- Right 22%
- FN 18%
- Mélenchon’s party 11.5%
- Socialists 9%
- Two-thirds said they were sure of their voting choice
- 58% are satisfied with what the President has done
- 28% want the President’s party to have an overall majority, and a further 27% think it would be preferable for LREM to have a majority
- 39% believe that in the coming months there will be more industrial action