Among the contenders for the French Presidency, François Fillon surely is the only one whose election could be considered as desirable both with regard to the values that this blog defends and the economic reform program he proposes. The remaining contenders are two radical left-wingers (one, Benoît Hamon, being the official candidate of the internally divided Socialist Party, and the other, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, an extremist with Communist sympathies), the far-right and “anti-establishment” Marine Le Pen who wants to lead France out of the Eurozone if not the EU, and another former Socialist now passing himself off as “centrist”, Emmanuel Macron, whose programme remains completely unclear. The remaining candidates, mostly of the lunatic left-wing fringe, have no realistic hopes to surpass one or two percent of the votes.
Opinion polls foresee that Le Pen and Macron will make it to the decisive second round, with Le Pen having been clearly in the lead in all polls, while Macron, who launched his campaign as an “independent” candidate in November 2016, surpassed Fillon only when the latter was
suddenly imbued in an avalanche of corruption charges. Currently, he is seen clearly in the lead over Fillon and Mélenchon, and it is expected that, if he reaches the second round, he would easily win over Le Pen. In France the less unpopular among the two most popular candidates will be elected President, and allegedly no other candidate arouses as strong negative emotions as does Marine Le Pen.
Both Le Pen and Macron have, however, a serious problem in common: once elected President, both would presumably find it very difficult to actually govern the country, because neither of them can expect that his/her respective political movement will win a majority in the National Assembly that will allow them to do so. Le Pen’s National Front might get the greatest number of votes, but the number of electoral circumscriptions in which its candidates can hope to win a relative majorities over alternative candidates on which the other parties agree is very small; as a result the NF will get hardly more than a dozen of seats. Macron has a similar problem, because his recently founded electoral platform “En Marche” is hated by the more traditional Socialists, and it is not easy to see why conservative voters would help out.
The decisive question will be whether French voters will forgive François Fillon his corruption scandals. Initially, these scandals have made him plummet in the polls, and mass media were unanimous in writing that all his chances were lost. There even were attempts by his own party, led by former President Nicolas Sarkozy and former Prime Minister Alain Juppé, to unseat him and replace him with another candidate, possibly Juppé. But with a daring strike Fillon fended off this attempted coup, calling his supporters to a spontaneous manifestation on Place du Trocadéro, to which despite inclement weather 100.000 participants came: it came out clearly that the conservative basis wants Fillon, and not Juppé or Sarkozy, as their candidate. And as long as Fillon did not step down it made no sense for the Conservatives to proclaim another candidate: his would only have lead to a scission of the conservative candidate, torpedoing Fillon’s chances without creating a realistic chance for the alternative candidate to reach the second round. Juppé and Sarkozy had no choice than to back away.
The fact that Fillon gave some sinecure employments as “assistants” to his wife and two of his children, who received handsome “salaries” for which apparently they did not have to discharge any work, and his habit of accepting lavish “gifts” from various wealthy “friends”, reveals him as greedy and self-serving. But these “employment contracts” and the acceptance of gifts are common practice among French politicians, and arguably are not even illegal – despite the fact that a group of state prosecutors whose close personal and political links to the Elysée are well-known are now investigating these matters and, apparently, handing all their findings to the mass media.
The French voters are perhaps less stupid than their politicians and journalists would have them. They know that these elections are about the future of their country, not about petty corruption in which canditates may or may not have been involved. They have no illusions about Fillon, but they also have no illusions about the rest of their political class, and especially not about Macron. They do not think it is a mere coincidence that among all the French politicians who have family members as their well-paid “parliamemtary assistants” and who get “gifts” from wealthy “friends”, it is precisely Fillon who is made the target of a well-greased media campaign and judicial investigations, which occur “just in time” when he is making an otherwise credible bid for the Presidency – while no such investigation takes place with regard to Macron, about whom there are not only some rumours about his unusual sex-life, but also about his finances.
They know well that Macron really is the candidate backed up by sitting President François Hollande, the most unsuccessful and unpopular of all French Presidents so far. They know that if they want to free themselves from Hollande’s deplorable legacy – high taxes, economic stagnation, the destruction of marriage and family, the promotion of sodomy and abortion, the promotion of gender ideology, and the brutal persecution of those disagreeing with these “progressive values”, they must also get rid of Macron: he publicly supported all this while serving as Minister of Economy under Hollande, and never distanced himself afterwards.
The latest polls seem to suggest that Macron is not quite as popular as pollsters and media have for some time claimed he was. The sudden increase in voter intentions for Mélenchon in the last days comes at the expense of Macron rather than any other candidate, which suggests that the political Left distrusts him. By contrast, Fillon has a solid basis of very motivated supporters, many of them being motivated by his sollicitude for family and pro-life issues.
Even the outcome of the second round is not as predictable as it seemed for a long time. Marine Le Pen, who is expected to gather the greatest number of votes in the first round, has a solid base of support among the militants of her own party, whereas Macron would have to obtain massive support from both Conservative and radical-left voters, and Fillon would have to get at least some centre-left voters to vote for him. With the increasing polarization, if not hatred, between Left and Right, both seems less and less certain to happen. Especially when voters feel that their candidate has been victim of dirty campaigning, they will be unlikely to vote for the man to whose benefit that dirty campaigning has been taking place.
Everything is still open. The current lead that pollsters indicate for Macron over Fillon and Mélenchon is just about 3% – and pollsters have recently often been proven wrong by actual election outcomes. Many of those interviewed said they vere not sure for whom to vote…