Hamon, Macron Face Putin Apologists in French Debate

Former French prime minister François Fillon attends a meeting with other European conservative leaders in Brussels, March 1, 2012
Former French prime minister François Fillon attends a meeting with other European conservative leaders in Brussels, March 1, 2012 (EPP)

Benoît Hamon and Emmanuel Macron don’t have a lot in common. The former wants to raise taxes in France in order to finance a universal basic income. The latter wants to cut taxes and reduce public spending.

Yet the two presidential candidates made common cause on Monday, when they faced three Putin apologists in the first televised debate of the 2017 campaign. Read more “Hamon, Macron Face Putin Apologists in French Debate”

Fillon Disqualifies Himself by Smearing Investigators

French Republican leader François Fillon arrives in Brussels for a meeting with other European conservative party leaders, December 15, 2016
French Republican leader François Fillon arrives in Brussels for a meeting with other European conservative party leaders, December 15, 2016 (EPP)

French presidential candidate François Fillon has gone down the same road as Brexiteers in the United Kingdom and Donald Trump in the United States by disparaging the institutions that stand in his way and appealing directly to “the people”.

Fillon, the center-right Republican candidate for the presidential elections in April and May, has dismissed charges that he paid his wife hundreds of thousands of euros over the years for a fictitious job as a “political assassination”.

He alleges that the rule of law “has been systematically violated” in France and that “the notion of innocent until proven guilty has completely disappeared.” Read more “Fillon Disqualifies Himself by Smearing Investigators”

Fillon Refuses to Drop Out, Hurting the Right’s Chances in France

François Fillon
French Republican leader François Fillon arrives in Brussels for a meeting with other European conservative party leaders, December 15, 2016 (EPP)

François Fillon has gone back on his word and said he will remain a candidate for the French presidency, despite an investigation being opened into accusations that he paid his wife hundreds of thousands of euros over the years for a fictitious job.

Fillon, the center-right Republican candidate, had earlier vowed to pull out of the contest if such an investigation was launched.

Now he maintains it is up to the French people.

“Only universal suffrage, and not an investigation, can decide who will be the next president of the republic,” he told reporters in Paris.

Fillon also repeated his allegation that the probe is politically motivated. “It is an assassination,” he said. Read more “Fillon Refuses to Drop Out, Hurting the Right’s Chances in France”

France Must Reform in Order to Prove Itself: Macron

Emmanuel Macron
French economy minister Emmanuel Macron attends a tech conference in Paris, December 11, 2014 (LeWeb)

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has said France must prove itself to Germany in order to breathe new life into the partnership that has been at the heart of the European project for decades.

French politicians have long wished for a restoration of parity between Europe’s two largest economies.

Macron told the financial newspaper Les Echos that his country cannot expect Germany to take French proposals seriously unless its finds the courage to do structural reforms:

The usual gesture in French presidential campaigns is to say, “I will turn over the tables and reorient the Franco-German relationship.” That doesn’t make sense and it never works.

The former investment banker and economy minister, who is one of the favorites to succeed François Hollande as president in May, reiterated a French proposal to create a European economy and finance minister to oversee hundreds of billions of euros in investments across the eurozone.

Germany has resisted this, fearing that spendthrift Mediterraneans will use an investment fund as a way to circumvent deficit rules and forego liberalizations. Read more “France Must Reform in Order to Prove Itself: Macron”

Bayrou Throws Support Behind Fellow Centrist in France

Former French economy minister Emmanuel Macron changes his tie on a train, December 31, 2016
Former French economy minister Emmanuel Macron changes his tie on a train, December 31, 2016 (Facebook)

The good news just keeps coming for Emmanuel Macron.

Perennial French presidential candidate François Bayrou endorsed his fellow centrist on Wednesday and announced he would not run this year.

Bayrou, a self-described third-way centrist, was a candidate in 2002, 2007 and 2012. Each time, he failed to qualify for the second-round runoff.

For the elections in April and May, Bayrou had been polling at 5-6 percent support. If all his voters switch to Macron, the former economy minister would easily best the right-wing candidate, François Fillon, and qualify for the crucial second voting round against the National Front’s Marine Le Pen. Read more “Bayrou Throws Support Behind Fellow Centrist in France”

Fillon and Macron Better Watch Out: French Left Considers Pact

Benoît Hamon
French Socialist Party lawmaker Benoît Hamon (Alchetron)

Polls put François Fillon and Emmanuel Macron neck and neck to qualify for the second voting round of the French presidential election in May. Whoever gets the most support in the first round would face off with the far right’s Marine Le Pen in the second.

That could change if the candidates on the left managed to set aside their differences and unite around one man. Read more “Fillon and Macron Better Watch Out: French Left Considers Pact”

Clinton-Trump Redux in France

After Britain voted to exit the European Union and America elected Donald Trump, the French ambassador to Washington DC, Gerard Araud, tweeted in despair: “A world is collapsing before our eyes.”

Now his home country has a chance to breathe new life into the liberal world order the English-speaking powers have turned their backs on.

After decades of statism, and five years of ineffectual Socialist Party rule, there is finally a critical mass for reform in France.

Brexit has also revived French enthusiasm for the European project. French support for the EU has shot up 10 points to 67 percent, according to an Ifop poll.

And Trump’s crude nationalism is showing the French the ugly reality of hysterical patriotism and anti-Muslim bigotry, both of which have been creeping up on them in recent years.

These three threads come together in the presidential candidacy of Emmanuel Macron. Read more “Clinton-Trump Redux in France”

Stars Align in Emmanuel Macron’s Favor in France

Former French economy minister Emmanuel Macron changes his tie on a train, December 31, 2016
Former French economy minister Emmanuel Macron changes his tie on a train, December 31, 2016 (Facebook)

Emmanuel Macron’s chances of winning the French presidency have never looked so good.

Recent surveys have him neck and neck with the conservative candidate, François Fillon. In some, he is even beating Fillon into third place, which would give Macron a spot in the second-round runoff against Marine Le Pen.

What’s changed from a few weeks ago, when Macron was in third place, is that the Socialists have nominated a far-leftist, Benoît Hamon, for the presidency and Fillon has been caught up in an expenses scandal. Read more “Stars Align in Emmanuel Macron’s Favor in France”

Hamon’s Victory Could Help Macron in French Presidential Election

Former French economy minister Emmanuel Macron changes his tie on a train, December 31, 2016
Former French economy minister Emmanuel Macron changes his tie on a train, December 31, 2016 (Facebook)

By picking Benoît Hamon, a relatively inexperienced far-leftist, over the reformer Manuel Valls on Sunday to lead the French Socialist Party into the elections in April and May, the left may have thrown away what little chance it had of retaining the presidency.

Emmanuel Macron must be smiling. The defeat of his former boss could have hardly come at a better moment for the former economy minister, who is running for president independently.

Earlier this week, it emerged that his Republican opponent, François Fillon, had paid his wife around €500,000 from parliamentary funds over a period of eight years for an assistant’s job when it is unclear she did the work. Read more “Hamon’s Victory Could Help Macron in French Presidential Election”

French Socialists Nominate Far-Left Hamon for Presidency

Benoît Hamon
French Socialist Party lawmaker Benoît Hamon (Alchetron)
  • French Socialists nominated Benoît Hamon, a former education minister, as their presidential candidate on Sunday.
  • Hamon got 58 percent support in a second voting round against 41 percent for his opponent, the former prime minister Manuel Valls.
  • Hamon is to the left of the party. His policies include the legalization of marijuana and the introduction of a universal basic income. Read more “French Socialists Nominate Far-Left Hamon for Presidency”