How fast time passes in politics. Three weeks ago, Francois Fillon, had a clear lead in the presidential race in France. Few had doubts that he, Francois Fillon, would be the winner of the upcoming elections in April.
"Anti Hollande", as he calls himself. The majority of the French agree with his views. He is not a socialist. Loser Hollande completely deprived his own party of any chances. He has a sensible approach towards the French economy, the EU, and relations with Russia.
But on Monday, Fillon made a «faux pas», a move, after which he seems unable to recover. Francois Fillon said that he «made a mistake» by giving his wife Penelope a government position: «It was a mistake for which I am very sorry. I apologize to the French people».
But it’s not only about his wife not doing any actual work for him while collecting a salary. In general, this has always been an accepted practice in France. Although it is now called corruption. Fillon also threw his wife under the bus, putting the word «mistake» next to her name. If he had a mistress, his rating could go up as it once happened with Hollande because it was about «love». And love is sacred in France.
But Fillon, did just the opposite, choosing power rather than love. His wife? A «mistake». The French do not forgive such things. And that's why now two-thirds of them want Fillon, who threw his wife under the bus for a «disrespectful» reason, to withdraw his candidacy. What chances of winning does he really have in light of all this? And his views and promises? Who is interested in them after all this?
To understand the political system in France, the mood of the electorate, and the way spin doctors manipulate them, let’s recall President Sarkozy. During his term, the Elysee Palace became a stage play of divorce for the top family of France and a love hut at the same time. As a result, Nicolas Sarkozy married Carla Bruni, and all of France was lulled by her guitar songs.
Sarkozy could also compete for the presidency, it was what is was, if it wasn’t for a number of financial skeletons in his closet. This is what his obstacle is, not women. At least, his past torrid love affairs with, for example, Jacques Chirac's daughter, Claude, did not stop him. There was a time when, as future son-in-law, he called his would-be father-in-law Chirac «father», while being married to another woman. Then Sarkozy went cold on Claude Chirac and, having become the president of France, he even opened a criminal case on the unfortunate ex-president, Chirac, his predecessor, for creating fictitious jobs in Paris City Hall.
But let’s go back to the female line in French politics. It has a rich history. There are many legends in it, both in the monarchical times, with a host of favorites, who had official status and the right to influence politics, and in the republican times. It is enough to mention Napoleon's Pani Walewska. However, we will not dive too deep into the old days, or we will drown.
One of the more recent stories is about President Mitterrand having a wife and a mistress for a long time, and having an illegitimate daughter from her. The public at large saw Mitterrand’s daughter Mazarin only at her father's funeral in 1996. Back then, the paparazzi wasn’t so annoying in France, and among the journalists it was considered mauvais ton (bad manners) to hurt families of politicians.
Incumbent President Francois Hollande could easily run for a second term at age 62, if his first one was politically successful for France. Hollande wouldn't be stopped by the fact that his marriage with Segolene Roayal wasn’t official, despite the fact that they have four children together. At the same time, he had a young lover, journalist Valerie Trierveller, whom he left in the Elysee Palace to secretly take a moped to visit a third one, actress Julie Gayet. «I met Mr. Hollande for the first time in a small cafe near the radio studio. He was so modest and nice that I thought he was wonderful». He and Gayet live together now, but who knows whom Hollande visits, leaving the Elysee Palace on a moped. Anyway, he has never been officially married in his life. Probably, he believes that his best match is yet to come.
All the attention of the female electorate is, however, switched to France's newest sex symbol — Emmanuel Macron. He is the most popular politician in France these days. According to a poll by the newspaper, Les Echos, and Radio Classique, all women will vote for him. What difference does it make what party he is from if Macron is stately, handsome, and smart, becoming the Minister of Finance at the age of 36, all while having such a stunningly amorous life story? Studying at a provincial school, he won the heart of his French teacher. His parents, who wanted to separate the lovers, sent the boy to study in Paris, but, years later, he once again found his Brigitte. However, she was already married and had three children, but it was impossible to resist Emmanuel's persistence. They got married. However, the children of his wife are his peers, because Brigitte Macron is 24 years older than Emmanuel Macron. But this is not so bad, going on picnics is much more fun this way. The press is full of photos of the happy couple, who always walk hand in hand.
Of course, there are a lot of envious and sharp-tongued ones, but is there anything wrong here? We also have such a wonderful family, Maxim Galkin and Alla Pugacheva. They even had children. These couples even have something in common. After all, Galkin had an affair, if you will, with a teacher. The teacher of Russian show business. So why should true love be denied to Emmanuel Macron? There will always be spiteful critics. This is about envy.
France, wonderful France has a chance to elect a woman to the Elysee Palace itself. The only female member of the presidential race, Marine Le Pen, is a favorite today. At least, everyone agrees that in the first round, she is gaining more votes than any of the male contenders. Her biggest challenge is in the second round, because then she would have to compete against the sum of the votes of all of her current rivals. Her father Jean-Marie Le Pen went through such an experience in 2002. Back then, the French press was set against him in the second round under the slogan «Anything but Le Pen!» However, France was different back then. At that time, Jean-Marie Le Pen earned a reputation of being an anti-Semite, and even, almost a fascist. The father still casts a shadow over the daughter's prospects. But Marin cleaned her political feathers, excluding her father from her National Front party, and started the fight with a clean slate.
Does she have a partner? She does. This is Louis Aliot, the vice president of National Front. Behind Marine Le Pen, there are two divorces, after which she has three children. Everything is fine. France is considering its options. What it's considering, our European correspondent Anastasia Popova will explain. Is it true that for everyone in France sex appeal is a decisive factor in the presidential election?
A war was declared on the police in the suburbs. They are facing off, angry youth against well-equipped people. Batons, tear gas canisters, and burning garbage cans. In Bobigny, a bus station was destroyed and a car from RTL Radio was burned down. A police station in Tremblay-en-France was attacked with Molotov cocktails, a kindergarten was also smashed. A five-year girl stayed in one of the burning cars, her mother ran away with a two year old son in her arms. The child was saved by one of the rioters, after which the car was turned upside down.
This is one of the most troubled suburbs of the French capital. Burned car are all around, knives are sticking out of the ground. Here, there was a fight. Four policemen attacked Theo, put him against this wall and started beating him for no apparent reason. Blood is still everywhere. He was beaten until he collapsed. And then the 22-year-old boy was abused. Doctors confirmed that he was raped with a police baton, it was so bad that he will not get up from the hospital bed for another two months. Meanwhile, the police officers were dismissed from the service while an investigation is under way.
While presidential candidates are trying to make the most of the situation, the satirical magazine, Canard Enchaine, seems to have decided, by any means necessary, to finish off the candidate from the Right. The new revelations on Wednesday are about the severance pay his wife Penelope received after her dismissal from the position of parliamentary assistant, which amounted to 45 thousand euros. According to the newspaper, she also fraudulently received 800 thousand euros and another 100 thousand was revealed by the journal, Review of the Two Worlds. The total amount is almost one million. Another 83 thousand was received by son Charles and daughter Marie. When Fillon worked in the Senate, they were engaged in legal affairs, without being professional lawyers. The children were questioned for seven long hours. There were no results. Their lawyers demand the investigation to end. Fillon is going on the offensive.
Fillon: «Do you know what I think about the polls? I'll remind you that for two years, you have been telling me that I had no chance, not a single one, to win the primaries. The lynching, the political assassination of the presidential candidate, which you have been engaged in for the past ten days, are a democratic problem. I am convinced that the French people have already begun to understand what is what».
However, the latest forecast promises him third place and a defeat after the first round with 18% of the vote. Fillon tries to avoid the annoying press, cancels lunches and meetings, and a visit to Iraq and Lebanon, and appears only at a meeting of his supporters far away from Paris.
The city of Poitiers wasn’t chosen by chance. It is an embodiment of traditional Catholic France. 12th century's Notre Dame is one of the most beautiful, but churches here are almost everywhere. Back in 732, the Franks stopped the Arab offensive, Karl Martel became the savior of Christianity. Today, it is also a university center, there are around 25 thousand students studying here. Fillon is placing its bets on young people: «Today, we are set up to fight unlike ever before. We won’t let the media seize his campaign. This is a very important moment, they are trying to prevent the people from making their choice». The letter F on the French flag is more like the Formula 1 logo. Indeed, he will have to quickly catch up with his rivals. Exactly 70 days remain before the election.
A former prime minister, with 38 years of experience in politics, father of five children, offers the French a conservative society, a liberal economy, protectionism, and a skeptical attitude towards a united Europe. The man, who before the scandal was referred to as a «white knight», is trying to regain his once spotless reputation. He has already stopped the rapid drop in his ratings, and now is again gaining the support of the French.
But it is Marine Le Pen, the head of National Front, who is considered the undisputed leader of the first round. In the case of the violence because of Theo, she is on the side of the police. She proposes fighting immigration and Islamic fundamentalism, the question of the withdrawal from the EU will be put to a referendum. France's membership in NATO is also considered unnecessary. Parodies of her election campaign video ads are trending on social networks. She doesn't have any allies to help her win the second round, just like there were none for her father in 2002. Jean-Marie received a little more than 17%. Opponents and the media bullied him, digging up everything they could, and even accused him of torture while serving in Algeria. As a result, Jacques Chirac won. «In our country, we have the highest taxes — 54%. A lot is spent on government expenses. Hollande's government has further increased the number of officials, they have a special status, guaranteed to them for life. Given the state of our economy, all this paralyzes France».
Francois Fillon suggests reducing the state apparatus by half a million people. But his situation is more reminiscent of the story of the presidential candidate, Jacques Chaban-Delmas. While being the prime minister, he was accused in 1971 of tax evasion during his three years in office, by the same satirical magazine Canard Enchaine. At that time, the politician was considered a possible favorite for the future presidential race. Jacques Chaban-Delmas: «I have been under attacks for the past two months. I obeyed the law like everyone else. When they say that I didn’t pay taxes, it is pure fiction. The Ministry of Finance issued a communique, which indicates how much I paid. His scheme was also legal».
He even got a vote of confidence in the National Assembly, but president Pompidou demanded his resignation. He was unable to regain popular support. In the elections, he eventually lost to Valerie Giscard d'Estaing, who was later also attacked by the same satirical magazine. Charges of receiving gifts, diamonds from an African dictator, were placed a few months before the election in 1981 and cost him the presidency. «Since 1958, the French president has had such power, which no other president or monarch in Europe and even the US has. The stakes in the fight for the presidency are so high that all kinds of dirty tricks are used to ruin the favorites. But France has always had a separation between public and private life. Look at the story of the second family of François Mitterrand and his illegitimate daughter. The situation has changed a little with the development of social networks. To this day, the French don't mix public and private life. Private life does not concern them. But they do not forgive those who use power for financial gain».
Rumors about Emmanuel Macron, who is the second in the polls, being gay, are splattered all over the French tabloids. The former investment banker who is married to his high school teacher, who is 24 years older than him, suddenly appeared at a rally of his supporters to dispel rumors about his connection with the general director of Radio France, Mathieu Gallet: «To anyone who spreads the idea that I lead a double life, that I have a hidden life, or something like that, I would say that this is certainly stressful for Brigitte. I assure you, since she shares her life with me day and night, she just wonders how I am physically able to do this. Thank God, I never had to pay her for it».
After studying at the National School of Administration, Macron was immediately hired by Rothschild bankers. His campaign today is generously paid for, it's as if his every move was carefully calculated by a computer. He manages to please everyone, without having a clear program. In general terms, it is a globalist-friendly pro-European France that suits both the financial and political elites of the country, supporting a strong friendship with the United States. Macron used to be a Socialist, but carries with him the support of the right-wing electorate as well. He is also being called «the cunning plan of Francois Hollande». They say that his dramatic resignation from the position of finance minister is a show, the purpose of which was to install his own man as president, who, instead of smashing the established system, will ensure its survival.