Posts Tagged ‘François Fillon’

Sarkozy gets the ignominious boot and a Le Pen – Fillon presidential contest is likely

November 21, 2016

Sarkozy tried to adopt many of Le Pen’s positions but while he has provided Marie Le Pen’s positions with legitimacy, he has apparently only lost his own credibility. He has suffered a humiliating defeat coming behind both Fillon and Juppe in the centre-right primary.

France 24:

French ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy saw his ambition to lead the country for a second time dashed as he suffered a crushing defeat to his former prime minister, François Fillon, in the first round of a centre-right primary on Sunday.

Fillon will now face off against another former prime minister, Alain Juppé, in a November 27 run-off to become the centre-right Les Republicains’ nomination in May’s presidential election. With ballots counted at 8,709 polling stations out of a total 10,229, Fillon was seen gathering 44.1 percent of the votes, Juppé 28.2 percent and Sarkozy 21.0 percent.

Sarkozy, president from 2007-12, said he would now back Fillon, a surprise frontrunner in what is the centre-right’s first ever presidential primary, in the run-off vote.

As results trickled in Sunday evening and the gap between Sarkozy and Juppé became ever wider, Sarkozy had little choice but to concede defeat.

This was the first ever centre-right primary and anybody with 2€ was eligible to vote. With an unknown electorate, opinion polls were very circumspect. But those few which dared to make any predictions expexted Juppe to lead, Sarkozy to come second and for Fillon to be eliminated. Fillon’s margin over Juppe was surprising and gives him the edge for the run-off on November 27th.

francois-fillon

Francois Fillon

But Fillon’s first-round win over Juppe and Sarkozy is also consistent with the narrative that opinion polls can no longer pick up trends which go against “political correctness”. The establishment are seen as the high priests of “political correctness” and nobody will admit to heresy in advance. Those who intend to vote against what is deemed “politically correct” just do not admit it. They neither admit to going against conventional wisdom whether in opinion polls or in exit polls. There were many secret voters against Brexit and many secret voters for Trump.

I expect also that France will have many secret voters for Marie Le Pen. While Fillon probably has a better chance against her than Sarkozy, opinion polls for the French Presidential elections (first round on 23rd April 2017 and the run-off round on May 7th) will almost certainly miss her “secret voters”. The polls will underestimate her strength. Her own party supporters probably can get her up to 30%. The left have no one to back and while many could force themselves to back Juppe just to keep Marie Le Pen out, they may abstain rather than back Fillon. After all for the unions Fillon is as bad as Margaret Thatcher.

For Marie Le Pen the best result would have been if Sarkozy had won. Fillon winning the primary run-off would be the next best thing since many of Sarkozy’s supporters at yesterday’s primary may well find a safe harbour with Le Pen.


 

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New French Foreign Minister moves quickly to rectify Sarkozy’s blunders

February 28, 2011
Michèle Alliot-Marie

Alliot-Marie: Image via Wikipedia

Sarkozy has always given me the impression of being rather condescending with former colonies and of running a foreign policy based almost entirely on short-term economic benefit. The French Government – as most others – has been caught completely unprepared by the upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East. But Sarkozy and his ministers have been particularly inept with Tunisia and Egypt and to some extent with Morocco and Libya.

Foreign Minister Michelle Alliot-Marie was stupid enough not only to accept air travel and holidays from Ben Ali’s friends but also to actually offer French support for the Tunisian security services when the demonstrations first began. Alliot-Marie’s partner, Patrick Ollier is also accused of using his close relationship with Muammar Gaddafi to secure French arms deals with Libya. He remains in the cabinet in charge of parliamentary affairs but she has now been sacked by Sarkozy. The Prime Minister, Francois Fillon who also accepted free holidays paid for by Mubarak remains in place.

Sarkozy also found another scapegoat in Pierre Menat the Ambassador in Tunis and sacked him as well. His replacement – the brash and arrogant Boris Boillon – then went and endeared himself to the Tunisians by immediately throwing a tantrum and calling the Tunisian press “stupid” at a press briefing on his arrival. Naturally the video found its way to You Tube ( 2:40 into the video). The Tunisians demanded his removal and he was forced to apologise.

“I say I am sorry, I regret my words, I was stupid,” Ambassador Boris Boillon said over state television. “I ask for the forgiveness of all Tunisians.” Tunisians are deeply suspicious of former colonial ruler France’s role in supporting Ben Ali, who ran the North African country repressively for more than 20 years.

Sarkozy is known for not caring much for diplomats while diplomats consider him impulsive and an amateur:

Mr Sarkozy has been criticised for several years over the way his government has run foreign policy. Critics accuse him of riding roughshod over foreign service chiefs at the Quai d’Orsay while keeping key decisions in the hands of his Chief of Staff Claude Gueant.

Last week an open letter from a group of diplomats, published in the newspaper Le Monde, slammed the “amateurism” and “impulsiveness” of Mr Sarkozy’s policy. Former ambassador Jean-Christophe Rufin criticised the “damage” done to France’s image. “Contrary to the announcements trumpeted for the past three years, Europe is powerless, Africa escapes us, the Mediterranean will not talk to us, China has tamed us and Washington ignores us!” wrote the diplomats.

The letter was seen as a response to Mr Sarkozy’s claims that his ambassadors in Arab capitals had failed to foresee the North African unrest.

It is now the more sober Alain Juppe, the former French prime minister, who will be given the job of restoring France’s diplomatic credibility as the country’s new foreign minister. He will seek to ensure France takes the right approach to the pro-democracy movement.

And, significantly, Mr Sarkozy is moving Claude Gueant, his wing-man for years and the driver of his foreign policy, to be interior minister – a move seen as a concession to Alain Juppe, who will want to run foreign affairs his way.

The new Foreign Minister Alain Juppe is now moving fast to try and rectify a string of blunders and to try and restore some cohesion to French foreign policy.

Now comes a French move to win hearts and minds in the new Libya: the first consignment of humanitarian aid. The two planes France sent to the eastern city of Benghazi carried doctors, nurses, medicine and medical equipment to ease the pressure on hospitals in the east of Libya.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon hailed “the beginning of a massive operation of humanitarian support for the populations of the liberated territories. And you will have seen that France was in the forefront of the decisions taken to sanction Col Gaddafi,” he said. “We were the ones who called on the European Council to adopt a joint position on this matter.”

The French moves are a start and almost forced on them since  the writing is already on the wall. Whether Alain Juppe will be able to inject a measure of principle into French foreign policy and lift it up from the level of the pig-trough remains to be seen.

But with Sarkozy’s approval ratings at less than 30% and a difficult presidential election coming up in 2012, his amateurish impulsiveness and his quest for short-term gains may prevent foreign policy from being about anything else.

The abuse of privilege: French Ministers and their “perks”

February 16, 2011
File:Michèle Alliot-Marie.JPG

Michèle Alliot-Marie: image wikipedia

That corruption and ethics do not place very high in the French scale of values is at least very true for Government ministers. Exploiting the privileges of position is a tradition which is not only maintained but is staunchly defended. Not only did the French Prime Minister have an all expenses paid holiday at the expense of Mubarak (before he left) including the use of Mabarak’s plane, but the Foreign Minister also happily flew around in the plane of a friend of the deposed Tunisian dictator. Now it is also revealed that her parents (in their nineties) have made lucrative  real estate deals with one of the dictator’s Tunisian associates.

If nothing else their choice of benefactors brings their judgements into question. And the French Foreign Minister actually being in Tunisia during the protests does not say much for the the intelligence or anticipation of her staff. She even spoke to Ben Ali on the phone during her vacation!!!!!! No doubt she wished him Bon Voyage.

Perhaps the best way to predict when the next Middle East dictator will topple is to study who is treating a French Minister to a holiday.

File:UMP regional elections Paris 2010-01-21 n13.jpg

François Fillon: image wikipedia

The BBC reports:

French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie has defended a property deal between her parents and an associate of the ousted Tunisian president. ….. Earlier Ms Alliot-Marie was criticised for having flown twice on a jet owned by Aziz Miled, who was close to ex-president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. She was on holiday in Tunisia during anti-government protests in December. ….

Speaking on Wednesday on the French radio station Europe 1, her father Bernard Marie said Aziz Miled was a long-standing personal friend and “my wife and I are the only ones involved” in the business deal. Le Canard Enchaine reported that Ms Alliot-Marie’s parents, both in their 90s, already owned part of a property company, SCI Ikram, and bought the rest of the shares from Mr Miled while in Tunisia with their daughter. An aide to Ms Alliot-Marie said the minister had had “a brief telephone conversation” with Mr Ben Ali during her holiday. The aide did not elaborate further.

Meanwhile, the French government expressed its “total support” for Ms Alliot-Marie on Wednesday.

Last week French President Nicolas Sarkozy told his government to holiday at home in future. He was responding to the revelations about Ms Alliot-Marie and Prime Minister Francois Fillon, who was criticised for having enjoyed hospitality in Egypt provided by former President Hosni Mubarak. Mr Fillon admitted he took a new year break in Egypt, paid for by Mr Mubarak. The prime minister and his family were given lodgings, used an Egyptian plane for an internal flight and took a boat trip on the Nile, all at Egyptian expense.

Neither has offered to repay the costs of their holidays to the people of Egypt or of Tunisia.


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