Posts Tagged ‘French Politics’
French Presidential hopeful Emmanuel Macron visited Britain yesterday.
There was great interest in this trip.
Macron is said set to make it through to the final two-round contest against Le Pen since the Republican candidate Francois Fillon has been enveloped in the “Penelopegate” scandal.
Though few would be certain about the French polls at present, as this one (also yesterday) indicates: SONDAGE. Fillon repasse devant Macron, Mélenchon rattrape Hamon. Emmanuel Macron’s rating how gone down, to between (First Round) 17% – 18,5%, with Fillon at 20%.
The alt- and far-right Express headlines,
Macron blasted for ‘abusing’ British hospitality and ‘making enemies’ during London visit
FRENCH presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has “made many enemies in Britain” by “abusing” Theresa May’s hospitality to slam Brexit on the steps of Downing Street, the leader of a powerful Tory think tank has blasted.
A more sober account appears on the France 24 site,
It is unusual for a British prime minister to host a foreign candidate for elected office, although Downing Street noted that former prime minister Tony Blair had hosted Nicolas Sarkozy months before he became French president in 2007.
“Monsieur Macron was already in London, he asked for a meeting and we were able to accommodate,” May’s spokesman told reporters.
Asked if May would be prepared to meet Le Pen, he said: “There’s a long-standing policy that we don’t engage with the Front National.”
Conservative leader May promised a close post-Brexit relationship with France on security and defence as she met with French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve in London on Friday.
The Guardian reported,
Emmanuel Macron, the centrist candidate for the French presidency, has vowed his campaign will learn from the mistakes of David Cameron’s Brexit and Hillary Clinton’s failed election campaign by being boldly pro-liberal and pro-Europe.
Speaking after a meeting with Theresa May in Downing Street on Tuesday, Macron defended his decision to be unambiguous in his views as he fights a campaign against the far-right’s Marine Le Pen, saying: “In the current environment, if you are shy, you are dead.”
He added: “In the current environment, when extremes and anti-globalisation win elections, that is probably the best moment for France to decide to do the opposite.”
Le Monde described his Rally at Central Hall,
Largement composé de jeunes employés dans la finance ou d’entrepreneurs, le public du Central Hall, grandiose salle de congrès de style 1900 surmontée d’un orgue géant, a bu du petit-lait quand l’ancien ministre a fustigé le système fiscal français qui « empêche les gens de réussir trop bien ».
The former Minister addressed an audience, largely made up of young employees in finance or entrepreneurs, at (the Methodist) Central Hall, an enormous conference Chamber in 1900 style complete with a giant Organ. His denunciation of the French tax system, an “obstacle to those who succeed too well”, was music to their ears.
« En France, on stigmatise l’échec et on n’aime pas le succès, a-t-il insisté, alors on va le chercher ailleurs. »
‘In France we vilify failure and we don’t like the successful”, he emphasised, “so people leave the country to try their luck.”
Libération summarised the speech bluntly, “Macron caresse dans le sens du poil les Français de Londres” – he flattered and buttered up the London French.
They noted this, ” Il y a même des Britanniques, dont l’ancien ministre à l’Europe de Tony Blair, le travailliste Denis MacShane, venu «en observateur».
We do hope Denis is keeping well.
Yesterday on British news programmes the visit was top news.
Newsnight followed reports with a discussion as to whether Macron and his political ‘party’ or rally, En Marche! represents a fight-back against ‘populism’ from the liberal centre.
Polly Toynbee’s admiration for Macron has been echoed by a number of pundits, although divisions between pro-EU centre-left and centre-right were quickly apparent in the studio that followed.
As the le Monde report indicates, Macron stands all too clearly for the ‘winners’.
Not everybody is a winner.
Marine Le Pen in Fake Job Scandal as Poll gives 44% of Working Class Voters behind her Presidential Bid.
This story has been rumbling on for the last few weeks, but this is the first proper report in English, from the always-worth looking at France 24 site (the French language version often covers different stories and is also well worth reading).
Bearing in mind that Marine Le Pen heads French polls (and by far and away, is the strongest candidate amongst working class voters at 44% ) – though is unlikely to get from the first round in the Presidential elections to win in the second.
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen on Friday vehemently denied having ever admitted to anti-fraud investigators that she misused EU funds to pay her bodyguard, saying she is the target of outright lies.
“It’s a shameless lie, I have never admitted such a thing to investigators,” the National Front leader told French radio France Bleu Besançon.
The comments come after French investigative news site Mediapart and weekly Marianne on Thursday published extracts of a report by the European anti-fraud body (OLAF) which claimed that Le Pen had admitted to falsely employing at least one of her staff as an EU parliamentary assistant.
According to the extracts of the report, Le Pen had defended the move, claiming the parliament owed her and her party money from unpaid salaries and expenses.
But according to Le Pen, this conversation with investigators never took place.
“I never even saw the sight of them [the investigators],” she said.
The persistent scandal, which erupted when the report was handed to French judges last year, is a needle in the eye for the 48-year-old whose bid for the French presidency had been picking up steam after it was revealed last month that her main rival, conservative presidential nominee François Fillon, paid his wife hundreds of thousands of euros by employing her as his assistant in the French parliament – a job the weekly Le Canard Enchainé claims she did not actually do.
Who said what?
European anti-fraud investigators say that Le Pen used European Parliament funds to pay her bodyguard, Thierry Légier, a total of €41,554 between October and December in 2011 by falsely claiming he was an EU parliamentary assistant. In the report, they claim that Le Pen acknowledged that she did not employ Légier in that capacity during those three months.
Le Pen is also accused of having signed off on a similar contract for her France-based assistant Catherine Griset, to whom a total of nearly €298,500 was paid out between December 2010 and February 2016.
In the report, investigators allege that “Le Pen had the European Parliament employ Madame Catherine Griset as a parliamentary assistant accredited in Brussels whereas she has been serving as her personal assistant at her party headquarters in France since December 2010”.
To qualify as an EU parliamentary assistant, the person needs to work in one of the parliament’s three offices – in either Brussels, Strasbourg or Luxembourg – and is required to reside in the vicinity of his or her workplace.
Refuses to repay
The EU parliament has sought to recover the funds – which amount to almost €340,000 in all – claiming the two employees worked as Le Pen’s own staff rather than parliamentary assistants, but Le Pen has so far refused to repay them, denying any wrong-doing.
“In order to reimburse, I’d have had to have received the funds, but my name isn’t François Fillon,” Le Pen was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying earlier this month.
“Moreover, I formally contest this unilateral and illegal decision,” Le Pen told AFP.
Her failure to repay the EU parliament means Le Pen faces a pay cut of some €7,000 a month as punishment.
French investigators have also opened a preliminary inquiry for fraud following the claims made in the OLAF report.
The Front National Has Changed!
Last year Marine Le Pen announced that he would ban “all religious symbols” including kippas, headscarves, veils, burqas and burkinis from public spaces if she is elected president, explaining the move as a “sacrifice” to combat Islamic extremism.”
On Thursday evening Marine le Pen was interviewed on France 2.
A full critical account of her statements is given in le Monde, Etrangers, décret anti-immigration… Les affirmations trompeuses de Marine Le Pen dans « L’Emission politique »
But this is of special interest.
She reiterated the above commitment, extending the 2010 French law, which prohibits the full-body veil, the Burqa in public to anybody with such ‘ostentatious’religious symbols or dress.
As many commentators have noted enforcing such legislation would invite a veritable “hunt” for those wearing religious symbols, in the front line, Muslim women wearing a variety of head scarves, veils, not to mention one religious groups that has Kippas…..
l’enseignement libre hors contrat, qu’elle entend largement favoriser au détriment de l’école publique. Or de quoi s’agit-il ? En premier lieu de l’enseignement catholique tendance Manif pour tous, qui se porte déjà bien, mais aussi des écoles juives, plus ou moins orthodoxes, ou bien sûr des établissements musulmans, plus ou moins salafistes.
Private education without state contracts (and controls) which she intends to favour to the detriment of public state education. What is this? In the first instance, Catholic schooling, in the (hard line) line of the anti-Gay Marriage movement Manif pour Tous, but equally Jewish schools, more or less orthodox, and, naturally, Muslim institutions, more or less Salafist.
This also raised eyebrows today (Washington Post),
PARIS — French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has vowed to request all people with dual citizenship in France and other countries to choose only one nationality, except for Europeans and Russians.
She said this doesn’t mean foreigners would need to leave the country, explaining they can stay “as long as they respect French laws and values”.
Le Pen said she considers Russia to be part of the “Europe of nations.” In response to a specific question from a reporter on France 2 television Thursday night she said the measure would involve Israel, since it’s not a European country.
This is their Europe of Nations, give or take a degree of exaggeration: France’s Nationalist Party Has a Plan to Break Up the Euro and Probably Start a New Financial Crisis Jordan Weissmann (Slate),
- Le Pen would call a meeting with the EU and ask it to replace the euro with brand-new national currencies. If it balked, France would go it alone.
- Le Pen would commandeer the French central bank, ending its independence.
- She would print “new French francs” to finance government spending.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the National Front is essentially threatening to suicide-bomb the whole EU monetary system.
At present indications point to a Le Pen lead in the first round of the coming Presidential election, and a “Macron versus Le Pen” duel in the Second, with Macron the favourite, in the latest opinion polls, to win.
Reuters reports (Sunday),
Far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon embraced technology during the launch of his presidential campaign at a rally in Lyon on Sunday, with a 3D hologram of him making his speech appearing at the same time at another rally in Paris.
Mélenchon, wearing a Nehru-style jacket, tried to use the hologram technology give a modern look to his launch, which coincided with that of the far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon opened his meeting, transmitted by hologram to Paris, with a rousing speech. But it was hard to hide that the selection of the radical green socialist, Benoît Hamon as Socialist Party candidate, has created profound difficulties for the leader of La France insoumise.
After Hamon’s victory the French left is divided. While many welcomed the Socialists’ change in direction, for the majority of Ensemble, an alliance of radical left currents and part of the (nearly defunct Front de gauche), Mélenchon remains central to the left’s prospects in France.
On the Ensemble site Roger Martelli writes of the left’s Presidential candidates, (Gauche : et maintenant ?)
Depuis une quinzaine d’années, il est de tous les combats majeurs visant à redonner au peuple sa souveraineté et à la gauche son dynamisme. Son programme, dans la continuité de celui de 2012, reprend la logique « antilibérale » et démocratique qui s’est déployée après le choc de la présidentielle de 2002.
For over 15 years he has been there in all the principal battles which have aimed to return to the people their soveriegnty and to the left its dynamism. His programme, consistent with the (Presidential election) of 2012 (when Mélenchon stood, backed by the Front de gauch left bloc), takes up again the « anti-liberal » and democratic logic used since the shock of the 2002 Presidential elections.
Au fond, Benoît Hamon incarne la continuité d’un Parti socialiste qui a accompagné les reculs successifs d’un socialisme devenu hégémonique au début des années 1980. Jean-Luc Mélenchon ouvre la voie d’une rupture dont toute la gauche pourrait bénéficier.
At root Benoît Hamon embodies continuity with a Parti Socialiste which has, since it became hegemonic since the start of the 1980s, has been marked by a succession of backward steps. Jean-Luc Mélenchon opens up the prospect of a radical break, from which all the left could benefit.
Martelli’s reference to “popular sovereignty” raises perhaps one of the most serious problems about Mélenchon’s campaign. The leader of La France Insoumise is not only concerned with “une majorité populaire à gauche”. Or a ” dose” of populism into the left, to re-occupy the field of social division, with a campaign that can express a radical protest vote.
Another Adieu au Prolétariat.
Mélenchon’s ambitions extend far and wide as he asserts the need to replace the traditional strategies of the left.
In a series of writings he has talked about L’Ère du peuple in (the grandly titled) “époque de l’Anthropocène.” (the ‘new epoch’ in human political geography). In this perspective the old ‘hierarchy’ of struggles, centred on the primacy of the proletariat as a political subject, has been surpassed.
In a short history which takes him from the people as a ” multitude ” (without cohesion), the people/working class, as a demand-making category, we have come to the age of « networks » (réseaux). And, in France, more specifically, as he puts it himself, “réseau de soutien à ma candidature et à son programme”. (Réseaux et mouvements. 7th of January 2017)
The network launched as La France Insoumise is at the core of the electoral and social strategy. Mélenchon is engaged in an explicit effort to capture (in his terms, form), the People, in opposition to the Oligarchy, financial and globalising. It is not shaped only by economic issues, but the with the wider effects of capitalism in society: marginalisation, social division, the long series of cultural contradictions and demands of the diverse oppressed groups. Above all it aims to “net” the concept of the People, and refound the left as a movement capable of structuring it politically as a force for progressive transformation (details of the programme on their site). Membership of what might be called a permanent “rally” does not require payment, only backing.
Supporters put this project in the same political sphere as Podemos, as a movement that aims to expand the field of democratic mobilisation against the political caste (la casta), more commonly called, in French and in English, the elites.
For this venture, which draws on the writings of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, populism is a political logic. The objective is to unify, to create a radical democratic People, not as (it is asserted) through the forms of exclusion and division, between “us”, on ethnicity or nationality and others.
Citizen-Movement and the Leader.
But, as Pierre Khalfa has observed, the “citizen-movement”, La France Insoumise, charged with this objective, organised in hundreds of “groupes d’appui” (support groups) is not democratic in the sense that political parties are – in principle. (Le peuple et le mouvement, est-ce vraiment si simple?). There are no organised confrontations between different currents of opinion; disagreements only arise over applying the ‘line’ in local conditions. There is, in fact,the worst form of Occupy style ‘consensus politics”, ruling out by fait real dissensus, wedded to the decisions of the Chief. It is “JLM who decides”. Or, as Laclau put it, the, “..the “symbolic unification of a group around an individuality” is inherent to the formation of a ‘people’ (Page 100. On Populist Reason 2005. ) (1)
Critics point to the lack of coherence in the definition of the would-be “people” a vast category with many internal conflicts between social groups. They also state that it is also highly unlikely that the ambition to remould populist resentment, expressed and solidly articulated in the Front National’s nationalist attacks on globalisation and a whole range of groups, from Muslims to migrant workers, has struck deep into French political reality. Detaching the ‘floating signifier’ of the People and putting it to a new use is a hard task. It more probable, and Mélenchon’s comments on Europe, migrant labour and the importance of the French ‘nation’, that it will end up more influenced by nationalism than become an alternative to it. Over everything lingers Pierre Khalfa put it the figure of “l’homme providentiel”, the Man of Destiny. (Le populisme de gauche, un oxymore dangereux).
In these conditions it is little wonder that many of the French left are not just wary of Mélenchon, but actively hostile to his entire project.
It is equally not surprising that elsewhere would-be People’s Leaders, like George Galloway in Britain, have warmed to La France Insoumise.
(1)Le peuple et le « mouvement. Jean-Luc Mélenchon (2.11.16. Blog).
“Il n’y a pas de carte. Il ne peut y avoir des cotisations mais seulement des participations financières à l’action c’est-à-dire des dons ou des versements réguliers pendant la durée de celle-ci. Il n’y a pas d’autre discipline que celle de l’action, c’est-à-dire celle que chacun s’impose dans l’action individuelle ou collective.” In other words, la France Insoumise is devoted to the “action” of getting votes.
François Fillon: as Devout as he is Avaricious
On French radio stations this morning the latest revelations about François Fillon’s ’employment’ of his family dominated the political reports.
There is the clear suggestion that Fillon – apparently a very proud (orgueilleux) person – refuses to heed advice.
While he is sticking to the policy of “stout denial”, suggesting that the revelations about his corrupt use of public money to pay his family immense sums of money for services it’s hard to find evidence of, senior people in his party are said to be preparing his exit from the political stage.
François Fillon’s wife Penelope was paid more than €900,000 for work she allegedly didn’t perform, according to investigative weekly Le Canard Enchaîné, which claims the embattled presidential candidate also hired two of his children.
The report by the satirical and investigative weekly, which first broke the story last week, almost doubles the amount Penelope Fillon is claimed to have earned from jobs her husband got her.
It claims that the conservative presidential candidate also employed two of his five children as parliamentary assistants while he was a senator, earning a further 84,000 euros.
Under French law it is not illegal for MPs to employ family members as assistants, provided they actually do the work.
The Canard, as it is known in France, claimed last week it could find no evidence that Mrs Fillon had been doing her job as parliamentary assistant for her husband and later another MP.
It said she had earned as much as €7,000 per month, in addition to money earned for her work at a literary review owned by a family friend, whose former editor said he had never seen her.
Tuesday’s new allegations come hours after investigators searched parliamentary offices as part of a preliminary inquiry into the case. They mark the latest twist in a suspected embezzlement scandal that has already damaged Fillon’s presidential bid.
Fillon, who served as France’s prime minister from 2007 to 2012 and has since served as a member of parliament, won the conservative Les Républicains party’s presidential nomination in November.
He has since been touted as the frontrunner in the election, but in recent days has struggled to respond to the allegations involving his wife.
French financial prosecutors launched a preliminary probe into embezzlement and abuse of public funds in the wake of the newspaper report.
MP Christian Jacob, the parliamentary leader of Les Républicains, on Tuesday confirmed that Parliamentary offices had been raided, but defended Fillon.
“François Fillon himself has asked for the investigation to proceed quickly, and the justice system must do its work,” Jacob told reporters at the National Assembly. “But what I can tell you as that all Républicains lawmakers support François Fillon and are standing behind our candidate.”
fThe former premier has said he would abandon his presidential bid if placed under formal criminal investigation. A formal enquiry by an investigating magistrate could take months to reach a conclusion.
Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière – a businessman and friend of Fillon – has also been questioned in connection to the allegations. He owns the literary review La Revue des Deux Mondes, which Le Canard Enchaîné said paid Penelope Fillon another 100,000 euros for very little work.
Fillon has defended his wife’s work as real. Declaring his love for her at a political rally in Paris on Sunday, he repeated that the allegations are nothing but a smear campaign against them.
This is not all.
Le Monde has just revealed suspicions about a Consultancy company owned – exclusively – by Fillon.
La florissante société de conseil de François Fillon
Le candidat de la droite à la présidentielle entretient l’opacité sur les clients et les contrats de sa société 2F Conseil, qui lui a rapporté plus de 750 000 euros entre juin 2012 et décembre 2015.
François Fillon’s flourishing Consultancy.
The Candidate for the Right’s company 2F Conseil, which earned him more than 750,000 Euros between June 2012 and December 2015, ran its contracts in terms of complete obscurity.
The leading French Daily dryly notes that each day brings forward a new set of allegations about the “candidat de l’honnêteté”.
Marine Le Pen has refused to repay €298,000 to the European Parliament following allegations the French far-right leader misused funds, disregarding a deadline set by the body.
EU authorities have been seeking to recover a total of €340,000 from the far-right leader, who is a lawmaker in the European Parliament but also a leading presidential candidate in France’s upcoming presidential election.
Libération reports that other fraud investigations are in the pipeline:
Apparently there are 20 other cases of Front National Euro Parliament assistants involved in the same racket. The French prosceution is invesigating them under the titles of the ominous sounding names of “«abus de confiance», «recel d’abus de confiance» (both meaning, breach of trust), «escroquerie en bande organisée» (organised criminal fraud) , «faux et usage de faux» (falsification), et «travail dissimulé (hidden work, i.e. for the FN nationally and not for their EU work.