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However, things deteriorated dramatically over the following weeks. The public prosecutor’s office for financial affairs accused him of having secured highly-paid fictitious employment at the National Assembly for his Welsh-born wife Penelope and his children. Even if many experts concluded that there was nothing strictly illegal about it, or that the public prosecutor’s office had a poor idea of the constitutional separation of powers, it came as a terrible blow to Fillon’s image as a clean politician. More unsavoury matters surfaced. Pressure mounted for the primary winner to withdraw, and there was talk of a Juppé comeback or of an alternative, younger candidate, like François Baroin, 50, the good-looking mayor of Troyes in eastern France.

Eventually, Fillon resolved to stay in the race. The same Catholic networks that had helped him during the primaries worked hard to bring some 100,000 supporters to a pro-Fillon rally in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris on March 5. Fillon admitted he had made “mistakes” but then warned his fellow conservatives that losing the presidential election would be an ever greater mistake. In the TV debate on March 20, he was clearly the centre of attention. And he showed himself once again to be both a skilled politician and a self-controlled man.

But the ultimate rebel is Emmanuel Macron. At 39, he is a maverick candidate that no political party has endorsed, who criss-crosses from Left to Right and back, and whose private life is both fascinating and unfathomable. A graduate of ENA (the National School of Administration), the top academic college that produces most of the French senior civil service, a senior sofficial in financial affairs for four years, and an associate banker at Rothschilds for three years, he was for two years — 2012 to 2014 — President Hollande’s chief personal assistant. Then, out of the blue Hollande put him in charge of the gigantic Ministry of Economy, Industry and Digital Economy, a position he retained until 2016.

In that post, he engaged in many ambitious reforms that not only ran counter to the French socialist tradition, even in its social democratic guise, but to an even more ingrained statist tradition shared by most French parties. His declared ambition was to modernise and simplify the French economy, get rid of red tape and superfluous regulations, and help entrepreneurs and start-ups. The so-called Macron Act of 2015 eased antiquated restrictions in many professions, from the prohibition of work on Sunday to the overregulation of taxis and buses. Since there was no majority to support it in the National Assembly, the Act was passed under article 49.3 of the constitution: the French equivalent of executive orders. A second and much wider Macron Act that would have scrapped similar restrictions in many more professions and in fact reshaped French companies in an almost Thatcherite way was scheduled for 2016, but finally cancelled by Valls. Bits of it were incorporated into the much narrower El Khomri Law, which elicited intense opposition from the trade unions and the hard Left, and was also passed under article 49.3.

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April 15th, 2017
2:04 AM
Open primaries followed by runoff elections between the top two vote-getters is pretty common in the USA. It does work.

Empress Trudy
April 14th, 2017
1:04 PM
There is pretty obviously no more political space within which Jews can navigate in France anymore. Just as they started flocking to Le Pen she let slip the mask that the new FN is little different than the old one. The socialists don't want them, the Muslims want them dead, and everyone else on the spectrum is playing for time until the whole country implodes.

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