Posts Tagged ‘Marine Le Pen’
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.
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.
Against Far-Right Meeting: Koblenz Stays Multihued!
The pro-Brexit UK left claimed that a vote to leave would strengthen the ‘anti-austerity’, left-wing and labour movement, forces across in Europe.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Now Donald Trump, who gives credit to the victory of Leave to his own triumph, heralds America First! – a slogan straight out of the back catalogue of his own, and the European extreme right’s favourite tunes.
The European far-right is also trying to capitalise on Brexit, and the success of Trump’s reactionary populism.
The Irish Times reports,
Koblenz will be the meeting place of European far-right leaders this Saturday. Hosting the event is Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) co-leader Frauke Petry and her new husband, party MEP Marcus Pretzell. Guests include French presidential hopeful and Front National (FN) leader Marine Le Pen, Dutchman Geert Wilders, whose Party for Freedom (PVV) is leading polls ahead of March elections, and Matteo Salvini of Italy’s Northern League.
Hours after Donald Trump’s inauguration in Washington, European far-right leaders see a mutual benefit in presenting themselves in public as a united front opposed to the EU’s current form, to its open borders, to its currency and to its approach to the refugee crisis.
The Tribune de Genève carries the same story:
Au lendemain de l’investiture de Donald Trump, la présidente du Front national en France, Marine Le Pen, retrouve samedi en Allemagne des dirigeants de partis de droite extrême et populistes européens, pour tenter d’afficher un front uni avant plusieurs scrutins cruciaux.
The day after Donald Trump’s investiture, the President of the Front National in France, Marine le Pen, is meeting this Saturday with the leaders of the European extreme right and populist parties, to attempt to assemble a united front before several crucial election contests.
The far from left friendly or even liberal Bild report that this meeting has caused outrage in Germany,
Wilders, Le Pen und AfD tagen in Koblenz Empörung über Gipfel der EU-Hasser
Gegen den geplanten Kongress formiert sich Protest
Wilders, Le Pe and Afd (Alternative for Germany) meetin in Koblenz. Outrage at the Summit of European Union Haters. Protests are being organised against this Congress.
Deutsche Welle provides the background,
Frauke Petry is careful about her reputation. She does not want to be seen as a right-wing extremist and nor does she want her party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), to be labeled as such. She has called the Thuringian AfD leader Björn Höcke, who held a controversial speech in which he criticized the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, a “burden for the party.” For a while, Petry’s reservations have kept her from contacting Marine LePen from the France’s National Front, which is considered to be at least a notch more radical than the AfD.
Last summer, Frauke Petry secretly met Marine Le Pen. Now she is seeking public appearances with LePen, Wilders and Matteo Salvini from the Italian Lega Nord. Nonetheless, the AfD itself is not hosting the party gathering. Petry’s new husband, the head of North Rhine Westphalia’s AfD, arranged the meeting. He is a member of European Parliament for the AfD and as a lone MEP joined the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) parliamentary group, whose driving force is the National Front. Pretzell’s only party colleague in Strasbourg, Beatrix von Storch, is a member of Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFD), which is mostly run by Britain’s UKIP and the Italian Five Star Movement.
There are people in the AfD who think Petry’s appearance at the gathering is wrong. “That is a pure ENF matter that has nothing to do with the AfD,” says Jörg Meuthen, who ironically makes up the party’s leadership duo with Petry. Even the Berlin AfD chairman Georg Pazderski says that the AfD should distance itself from the National Front, as its economic policies are too “socialist” for him. The FN does indeed advocate isolationism and anti-globalization, unlike the economically liberal AfD.
The protests today:
a broad counter-alliance with the slogan “Koblenz remains diverse” has formed and will demonstrate on Saturday. The head of the SPD and deputy Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel wants to join the march as do representatives of the Green Party, the left-wing party Die Linke and even the Social Democrat foreign minister of Luxembourg, Jean Asselborn. “We cannot leave the destiny of the continent in the hands of the nationalists,” Asselborn told the German Press Agency.
Yesterday around 100 people demonstrated against the far-right in Koblenz: Erste Demo gegen Rechtspopulisten in Koblenz
Another ‘Populist’ as rich as Croesus.
Le Pen follows Trump’s lead with vow to bring car industry back to France.
Far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said on Tuesday she would seek to repatriate production of French motor vehicles and other industrial goods – just as President-elect Donald Trump hopes to do in the United States.
Far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said on Tuesday she would seek to repatriate production of French motor vehicles and other industrial goods – just as President-elect Donald Trump hopes to do in the United States.
Marine Le Pen also wishes to enjoy good relations with Russia.
Vladimir Putin’s forces swept into the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in February 2014.
As the opinion polls stand it still looks possible that Marine Le Pen will fight the Second Round of the French Presidential elections.
But is is not sure if she will be up against the traditionalist and economically liberal right-wing candidate François Fillon.
For the April First round she currently stands at 23%. Fillon’s support has declined to 26%
But at 16 to 24% Emmanuel Macron the ‘centrist’ candidate is now snapping at Fillon’s heels. (Nouvel Obs)
Some might hope that she will be eliminated and the Second round will be a duel between Macron and Fillon.
All of which is (filling many pages in the French media) speculation on a grand scale…
Needless to say with the Socialist Party about the choose their candidate by primary elections at the end of this month, and the real possibility that Jean-Luc Mélenchon stuck around the 14-15%, will get more votes than them, the French left looks unlikely to be serious contenders.
French Far-Right Hesitates between Marine le Pen and François Fillon.
France 24 reports,
By overwhelmingly backing former prime minister François Fillon, voters in the primary held by France’s centre-right on Sunday opted for an economically liberal, socially conservative candidate whose vision for France leaves little ambiguity.
Any hope rival primary candidate Alain Juppé had of springing a surprise in the Les Républicains party run-off vote failed to come to fruition, with Fillon taking some 66.5 percent of the vote. If Fillon’s strong performance in the first round of voting could be in part attributed to voters merely wanting to shut out Nicolas Sarkozy, his landslide victory over Juppé on Sunday left little room for doubt: Fillon’s firmly right-wing platform had won the firm backing of the conservative electorate.
The “fight between one project and another”, as the more moderate, centrist Juppé had called his showdown with Fillon, had been decided. Despite attacks by Juppé between the two rounds of voting that had depicted him as both “ultra conservative” and “ultra liberal” economically, Fillon had clearly prevailed.
The Guardian columnist Angelique Chrisafis comments,
The Front National leader has reason to fear the Republican candidate, whose views overlap with some of her key ideas.
The Front National has reason to fear Fillon. His traditionalist and socially conservative line on family values and “the Christian roots of France”, his emphasis on French national identity, “sovereignty” and “patriotism”, his hard line on immigration and Islam as well as a pro-Putin foreign agenda against “American imperialism” all overlap with some of Le Pen’s key ideas.
This could potentially see Fillon steal some of Le Pen’s most socially conservative voters, particularly rightwing elderly people, who always have a big turnout to vote but remain sceptical about the Front National.
“Fillon presents us with a strategy problem, he’s the most dangerous [candidate] for the Front National,” Marion Maréchal Le Pen, the Catholic and socially conservative Front National MP and niece of Marine Le Pen, told journalists this week.
Despite Fillon’s hardline rightwing stances, he is not a populist. “He’s closer to [the former British prime minister] David Cameron than [the Ukip leader] Nigel Farage,” said Jean-Yves Camus, an expert on the French far right.
This leaves Le Pen a wide margin in which to go for Fillon’s jugular as she fights a campaign centred on “the people versus the elite”. The Front National has already begun attacking Fillon as a snobbish, political has-been. It argues thatFillon, as Nicolas Sarkozy’s prime minister, was responsible for the failures of the Sarkozy era and cares more about the rich, globalised elite than the working class who have faced decades of mass unemployment.
The battle will largely focus on economic policy. Fillon has promised a “radical shock” for France with free-market reform, major cuts to public sector jobs and reducing public spending. Le Pen claims to represent the “forgotten” French underclass and has an economic line that is essentially leftwing: she is anti-globalisation and favours protectionism and state intervention. Le Pen’s campaign director, David Rachline, has called Fillon’s programme “economically insane” for wanting to slash 500,000 public sector jobs.
Le Pen’s advisers believe Fillon will struggle to appeal to the lower middle class and working class voters who are afraid of losing their jobs. The Front National has slammed Fillon as a symbol of lawless, ultra-free market, globalised capitalism. Fillon, in return, says Le Pen’s economic project is simply “a cut and paste of the extreme left”.
Some on the French far-right are already moving towards backing Fillon (Le conservatisme affiché de François Fillon séduit à l’extrême droite).
Has the French left any chance?
The Socialists continue to hover between indecision and hesitancy.
This weekend the French Communist Party (PCF) voted to back Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Presidential bid (Finalement, les communistes soutiennent… Mélenchon. Libération). They supported his candidacy under the banner of la France insoumise by a slim, at 53,6% for, majority. It is obvious that there was little chance of a the Communists being able to launch their own Presidential challenge. The Party announced its intention of launching their own campaign in support his proposals against austerity. They do not intend to give him ‘carte blanche’ (un blanc-seing).
This follows the decision of the other component of the (now effectively defunct) Front de gauche, Ensemble, to back Mélenchon, Communiqué du Collectif National d’Ensemble des 19 et 20 novembre 2016)
That Mélenchon looks potentially capable of beating a Socialist candidate into fourth place no doubt counts in his favour – although no poll gives him a chance of getting to the run-off.
The reasons for the PCF’s reservations – shared no doubt by many in Ensemble, are not hard to find. Beginning with the personality of the Man of Destiny.
We nevertheless cite a major source of difference which, given the importance of the issue of immigration in the coming contest, will no doubt grow in importance
Philippe Marlière has noted (Guardian),
Despite a steady increase in Euroscepticism in France, the underlying principle of free movement of people across the EU remains broadly undisputed. Apart from in one telling area. There is growing evidence of opposition towards EU migrants and the notion of freedom in what has become known as “social dumping”. This relates to “posted workers”, employees sent by their employer to carry out a service in another EU member state on a temporary basis. Those EU workers do not integrate in the labour market in which they work.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, an MEP, a presidential candidate in 2012 and running again in 2017, has singled out posted workers in a speech at the European parliament last July. He declared that “posted workers took the bread out of French workers’ mouths”. Part of the French left was stunned by words that could have easily been uttered by Marine Le Pen.
Meanwhile Jean-Luc Mélenchon has insulted yet another section of the left. He has attacked the journalist and Latin American specialist Paulo Paranagua with a series of allegations about his political past in Argentina. The journalist, the Presidential hopeful raved, had been objectively Muse of the CIA – no doubt the reason he was captured and tortured for his association with armed resistance to the 1970s military regimes of the time. Paranagua was only released from an Argentinian gaol and deported to France after an international campaign in his defence.
A protest at these slanders has been launched: “Nous n’acceptons pas de voir notre passé commun insulté par J.L. Mélenchon“. Signatures include Alain Krivine..
Update, Post Primary Opinion Poll:
None of the left gets more than 13% in opinion polls, Fillon, 26% Marine Le Pen (24%) Emmanuel Macron – Centre (14%) et Jean-Luc Mélenchon (13%), t François Hollande9%, François Bayrou, Centre, à 6%. Ecologists Yannick Jadot and Nicolas Dupont-Aignan 3% Far-left Nathalie Arthaud et Philippe Poutou 1% – poll today l’Express.
It is not often that we publish news on Ipswich Tory Party.
MP Ben Gummer spends his time these days in a happy daze:
It is an exciting time to be in our town, and a privilege for me to serve this glorious constituency as it grasps a better future with both hands.
But all is not well in the Ipswich Conservative Association..
Leading activist, former Tory council candidate, and Brexit supporter, Kevin Algar, the Terror of Saint Jude’s, is now backing Marine Le Pen for French President.
He comments on Facebook today, “She will win, the EU will collapse and the people of Europe shall be free.”
According to well-established rumour Kev, as his friends don’t call him, plans to hold a Suffolk victory party for the Front National.
This was his last celebration, (via East Anglia’s Premier Political Blog) ” Congratulations to US President elect Donald Trump.”