Sunday, March 05, 2017

Will Putin Steal The French Election Too?


I don't know how many DWT readers are concerned about the upcoming French presidential elections-- there are 2 rounds, first on April 23 and then a runoff May 7-- but we've covered it sporadically, primarily here and here. There were some new developments yesterday-- and over the last few days-- worth looking at. First a tiny thumbnail sketch: there's a Putin-backed neo-fascist running, Marine LePen, who is guaranteed a place in the runoff. Then there are 4 main candidates vying to get into the runoff with her, polls indicating she would probably lose to almost anyone. Until recently, the presumed other runoff candidate was Republican right-wing nut-- not as insane as Le Pen, but pretty crazy-- was François Fillon. His campaign has fallen apart and we'll look at that in a moment. The supremely unpopular current president, François Hollande, some bizarre version of a Socialist, isn't running and a Berniecrat real Socialist, Benoît Hamon, won the primary and will represent that party. But a former Hollande cabinet minister is running as a kind of centrist independent, Emmanuel Macron, and many of Fillon's supporters see him as the best alternative and he is looking very strong except for 2 things: first he referred to France colonial history as a "crime against humanity" and "truly barbaric" while he was visiting Algeria, angering the right-wing traditionalists who still those as the glory day; and the Putinistas have planted a rumor that he's a closet case, scaring some Fillon supporters from the Catholic religionist fringe. It's probably worth mentioning that Macron's campaign is being funded, at least in part, by George Soros. Although Macron is portraying an "outsider," he is a former investment banker and Hollande's former economics minister. If he wins, he'd be France's first president without the backing of an established political party.

D'accord? Let's get started with why Fillon's bumbling campaign has fallen apart (aside from him being a right-wing asshole). First of all he was exposed for paying family (one wife, one son, one daughter) members over a million dollars with government money for make believe jobs when he was premier. Other who wanted to bribe Fillon, were able to funnel money to him by giving his wife fake jobs as well. So now Fillon is being investigated for misuse of public funds and embezzlement. And his polling numbers dropped to a point where he looks unable to get into the runoff. Yesterday his campaign manager, Patrick Stefanini, and campaign spokesman both quit the campaign and an affiliated party, the Union of Democrats and Independents (UDI) called on the Republicans to dump Fillon and replace him (presumably with primary loser Alain Juppé). Stefanini wrote an open letter saying he had resigned because he also though Fillon should quit the campaign over the financial scandals.

It's worth noting that Le Pen has also just been summoned before a panel of judges for misusing nearly $400,000 in EU Parliament funds, another fake jobs scandal. She is refusing to obey the summons. Anderson Cooper is interviewing her on 60 Minutes tonight.

As for Benoît Hamon, there is still a glimmer-- pretty much fading-- of hope that he can get the Communist, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and the Green, Yannick Jadot, to drop out and support his bid, in which case he would likely be the one to face off against Le Pen in May. Two brand new polls were released at the end of the week. Here's how the candidates in double digits lined up as we approach the final stretch:

Le Pen- 27%
Macron- 24.5%
Fillon- 20%
Hamon- 14%
Mélenchon- 11%


Macron- 27%
Le Pen- 25.5%
Fillon- 19% (if Fillon is replaced with Juppé, he would lead the pack with 26.5%)
Hamon- 14%
Mélenchon- 10%
Obviously, it is crucial for the center-right to get Fillon out of the race as soon as possible. He won't even make it into the runoff. But look what could change if he drops out and is replaced by Juppé, who he beat convincingly in the Republican primary (and who just announced he won't run even if Fillon drops out!): 

And the Paddy Power betting odds for who winds up after May 7 in the The Palais de l'Élysée:

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At 1:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

France under De Gaulle almost broke up NATO by pulling out of the alliance for many years. This is why the headquarters got moved to Brussels, where it now remains.

So as I see it, if Putin is backing Le Pen and aiding her campaign, this is the likely payoff, Considering that NATO is parked on Russia's borders much like the Wehrmacht of 1941, he's got to play every angle he's got.


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