Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Frondeur frondé, Fillon filet

"Avez-vous déjà écrit votre article sur notre élection ... démente?" a former government minister wrote me the other day. A demented election indeed. I have never witnessed a crazier one. But today is shaping up to be the craziest day of all. The establishment fronde against the former anti-establishment frondeur Hamon is picking up steam. Prominent Socialists are accusing him of having "hardened" his platform since winning the primary, thereby justifying (or rationalizing) their refusal to support him despite his having won the democratic contest. The breakup of the Socialist Party appears to have been consummated.

Meanwhile, Macron is picking up so many endorsements from former sommités of the right that frictions are developing between leftists and rightists in his entourage. A particular bone of contention involves the naming of former Chirac minister Jean-Paul Delevoye to head the committee to choose En Marche candidates for the legislative elections. Dominique de Villepin and Jean-Louis Borloo are also rumored to have thrown in their lot with Macron. It is as if Marine Le Pen's charge that the two parties of government were really only one, the UMPS, has been made flesh. The power-seeking moths are inevitably drawn to the only candle still burning.

And then comes the news that the Fillon flame may be about to be snuffed out. He abruptly canceled a scheduled visit to the Salon de l'Agriculture, that obligatory passage required of all candidates. Rumor has it that he is about to be mis en examen. He is scheduled to make an announcement imminently.

UPDATE: Fillon announced that he will indeed be mis en examen on March 15, but he is staying in the race nevertheless. He continued his unblinking (and unconvincing) insistence that he is the victim of a conspiracy and has done nothing wrong. It didn't work the first time, and it's unlikely to win him more votes now. I expect him to decline further in the polls. Yet the Republicans, many of whom appeared with him at today's press conference, appear to have decided that there is no alternative to going down with their leader. Behind the scenes the battle for the future leadership is undoubtedly fierce.

UPDATE 2: Bruno Le Maire has resigned as Fillon's foreign policy advisor. He thinks Fillon should have renounced his candidacy because he will be mis en examen. Other desertions have followed.


14 comments:

mpz13 said...

From a "technical" point of view, Anne Meaux is a real pro. Considering that Fillon cannot quit (since there is no plan B for L.R with conviction a powerful but empty speech. His lengthy diatribe against the unprecented cabal, the disgusting behaviour of a servile justice under the thumb of the a vacant political power, playing the game of Marine Le Pen in order to deprive half or France of their righteous honest champion... will not mobilize crowds, it appears to me as putting one more useless nail on the already half burried coffin of the P.S. He can't seriously blame Hamon for manipulating the judiciary system, nor Macron, nor Vladimir Putin. It must be last leftist djihadists from the famous "cabinet noir" of the Elysée.

bernard said...

UPDATE 3: UDI stop supporting Fillon, official.

atomymous said...

More precisely still, they have suspended support. A definitive decision will be taken next week.

I think at this point EM is thrilled that FF is staying put. If FF does stay, as he says he will, EM's chances seem getting more by the hour, if not (at least today) the minute. I don't see how anything other than some EM meltdown/shocker could not put anyone else in front (that eventuality might push BH closer, given the fragility of many of EM's support).

brent said...

Amidst the extraordinary chaos afoot in France today, it may not matter much that NYTimes columnist Ross Douthot concludes his column by saying that LePen "might deserve to win" on the basis of her anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, and anti-EU policies. The remark does suggest, though, how contagious the nationalist idea is becoming among the various democracies of the West, with more bad news looming in the Netherlands. Is Macron destined to be the Messianic savior not just of France but of us all?

mpz13 said...

If the rumor is correct that Fillon wants a demonstration on the Trocadero against "le coup d'état des juges", this is one major step further in ignominy, this is a direct appeal to the F.N. to join. A manoeuvre Marine wouldn't have imagined by herself. We'll see. The man used "guerre civile" terms and now seems ready to demonstrate against Justice itself. I have no words for my disgust of this man. I think he is worse than Marine Le Pen. He is being investigated for having used tax payers money to his own family benefit, not for his party, or a cause just to divert to his personal bank account and all he had to say was "everybody does it" and "it's legal"... He is despicable. I pity the honest people in L.R. who are being blackmailed into supporting him or go fishing.
This idea of a demonstration against the judges is pure Buisson.

atomymous said...

@ Brenth. I had a look at that column, and thought it might be worth quoting the passage here:

"Merkel’s policy was reckless, Europe’s immigration-and-integration problem is severe and likely to get worse, and Le Pen’s dire warnings on this count are wiser than the blithe optimism of the establishment. Which points to an interesting difference between the National Front’s candidate and the populism that triumphed in America’s presidential race: Hers is better thought out, more disciplined, and more often correct.

Le Pen’s pessimism about mass migration may be too dark, but it’s a needed corrective to Merkelism, and much more reasonable in the European context than Trump’s overhyped warnings about refugees. Her brief against the follies of the euro is almost inarguably true (for reasons that you can about read about on Vox, not Breitbart). Her party platform overall suggests what Trumpism would look like if it were more coherent — and, for that matter, more responsible, since she’s actively tried to distance her movement from the sort of toxic bigotry that Trump’s campaign saw advantages in winking at.

So while Le Pen probably faces longer odds at this point than Trump did last October, she has one advantage to add to whatever strange assistance providence might send her way: She might actually deserve to win it."

bert said...

Ironically in the 1980s anglosphere UDI stood for Unilateral Declaration of Independence.
Le Pen vs Mugabe in the runoff.

bert said...

I first got to know Douthat as a Bush apologist. I'd imagine most Europeans would find him far too full of religion to stomach in large doses.
Douthat does link in his piece to this:
http://www.vox.com/2015/1/12/7531357/national-front-platform
by Matt Yglesias from just over a year ago. Far more our type of American, that lad. And yours too Brent from what I can gather (do please correct me if I'm wrong).

bert said...

... just over 2 years ago ...
Time flies, I can't be the first to notice.

brent said...

@ Bert Thanks for pointing out the Vox article, one of the more honest appraisals of MLP I have seen. Beyond the racist dog whistles (which Douthot apparently can't hear), the FN is clearly addressing a real malaise, with policies directed against financial and administrative elites that will play awfully well against Macron. US Democrats should have seen how Sanders was a better antidote than Clinton, and the French may discover to their horror how powerfully those dark forces play out against enarchs and insiders. Neither JLM nor BH seems poised to offer a viable alternative of the Sanders sort, but perhaps their briefs for a very different kind of EU will inspire Macron. As Yglesias and Douthot both suggest, campaigning to carry on as usual with the EU may lead to a disaster in May.

Mitch Guthman said...

It is a crazy election. I think the craziness mainly flows from the two dominant assumptions being made by most observers: that MLP will be in the second round but cannot actually win the presidency because her opponent will be the beneficiary of a "republican front" similar to the one that propelled Jacques Chirac to his historic victory. The assumption seems to be that history will repeat itself and whoever faces Le Pen will essentially win by default, as Chirac did.

To borrow from that eminent philosopher Ace Rothstein, being in the second round against Le Pen washes away all your sins. It's like a morality car wash for politicians. It doesn't matter if Fillon is a crook and a liar. He has no incentive to drop out; if he can get into the second round, he will be the president and all will be forgiven. If he can’t, it doesn’t matter to him since he’s about a screwed as a member of the French political class can be—meaning, no jail but he’ll have to sit out a couple of years between cushy political jobs.

Mitch Guthman said...

I would very much agree with both Bert and Brent that it might be wise to hold off on celebrating the coming of Macron, the Savior. The specter of Brexit and of Trump vs. Clinton is very much in the background here. Clinton, in particular, ran as the candidate of the status quo against a man who makes even the trolls the FN keeps in the attic look like decent, respectable human beings. And she lost.

If MLP gets to define Macron as the candidate of the UMPS, as Art suggests, and she herself runs as rational albeit “France first” campaign that focuses primarily on economics and the EU rather than as the lunatic candidate of “blood and soil,” she can win.

bert said...

And yet this week's Europe-wide poll:
https://twitter.com/AlbertoNardelli/status/836568587695435776

I have to say those numbers look a bit cooked to me, but I don't have my own polling to back that up. What I can say is that Italy's per capita GDP is lower now than when they joined the euro in the late 90s, and Italians are aware of this.


On Fillon, this:
https://i.redd.it/qr355wxf7uiy.jpg

FrédéricLN said...

@mpz13 "From a "technical" point of view, Anne Meaux is a real pro." +1! And from the strategic point of view, she destroyed the stronghold.