French Plot Twist: Fillon’s fall from grace is a gift to Le Pen and Russia – Popov

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February 15, 2017 – 

By Eduard Popov for Fort Russ – translated by J. Arnoldski – 

Several days ago, a sensation gripped France: the presidential candidate from the right-centrist Republican Party and a favorite of official Russian media, Francois Fillon, fell from leading positions. His vacant place has since been taken by the independent candidate and leader of the Forward movement, Emmanuel Macron, who is positioning himself as an enemy of the Establishment and, in this case, an opponent of the “old” French parties. 

Macron’s appearance in the political forefront on the eve of elections in France has caused quite a panic in those Russian circles who hedged their bets on Fillon. Some observers have already hastened to award Macron victory in the second round. Such is the power of psychological conviction! The enemy appears to be most certainly evil, but also genius. 

Let us recall, however, that the same ease with which Macron’s potential election victory is being forecasted today by the lion’s share of political analysts (alas, the author is no exception) turned out wrong in predicting a win for Hillary Clinton in the US. I, for instance, believed that Trump would claim real victory, but that the controlled electoral system would award victory to his rival.

But are things really so bad for Marine Le Pen – a Russian favorite who is loved particularly by Russian nationalists in both the government and opposition – that she should admit defeat? Did Fillon’s bow-out turn her into a bad joke? In my opinion, Fillon’s collapse and Macron’s advance are a real gift to the leader of the National Front. 

The anticipation of a second round being battled out between Le Pen and Macron could very well turn out to be a French equivalent of the “Trump vs. Hillary” match, and with the same result.

But first, let us examine Fillon’s bow-out. In my opinion, the rave appraisals of this candidate that were sounded more often than not in Russia were a very generous promotion for his several statements in favor of more cautious and less hostile relations with Moscow. But unlike Marine Le Pen who has literally inherited “Russophilia” from her father, Fillon’s “Russophilia” was forced and highly dubious. 

Russians, like all Slavs, are very trusting and easily become euphoric  over merely a few encouraging words uttered in the West. When ex-French President Nikoas Sarkozy (one of the most consistent Atlanticists) came to Moscow, the Russian press did not spare him rave reviews. Why? Because he, like Fillon, spoke in favor of a more pragmatic relationship with Russia. But politicians’ words are just that – words. It is very doubtful (or rather, unlikely) that Sarkozy would pursue Russophile policies if he became president.

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But Fillon, unlike Sarkozy, has done Russia a favor not by rising, but by falling. If the second round of French elections were to see the right-wing candidate Fillon and the “ultra-right” candidate Marine Le Pen (even though the National Front is not “far-right” in anyway like it had been under Jean Marie Le Pen) go head to head, then both would have used largely the same rhetoric on the fight against immigration and rapprochement with Russia. And I believe that Fillon would have had a greater chance of winning.

I am sure that Marine Le Pen’s headquarters very quickly and correctly assessed the meaning of Fillon’s sensational fall. Fillon’s retreat into the shadows following scandals in the media and Macron’s rise (who is almost a copy of Hillary Clinton) allows the comparison between Marine Le Pen and Donald Trump to be more clearly visible. 

Macron, as is known, is a representative of the Rothschild banking family. This is part of the Western establishment and political mainstream. I am skeptical of Macron’s headquarters’ capability of convincing Frenchmen that he is an opponent of the Establishment, yet this is precisely what his electoral campaign is built on. Another cornerstone of Macron’s campaign is accusing his rival of being tied to Moscow. On February 14th, for example, the head of Macron’s campaign headquarters, Richard Ferrand, claimed “hundreds, if not thousands” of hacking attacks on their offices’ systems behind which stand hackers linked to the Kremlin. Yet this is another gift by fate to Marine Le Pen!

Russophobia is no longer in style (at least in France). Even Americans grew tired of media and mainstream politicians’ lies about “the hand of Moscow” and “Putin’s hackers” and voted for Trump out of protest. Unlike Marine Le Pen, whose program points to real problems facing France and ways to resolve them (whether correct or wrong is another question), Macron’s headquarters are busy fighting with imaginary enemies. 

Macron is not fighting for France, but against Russia. 

Therefore, let us congratulate Marine Le Pen on this good plot twist in the election campaign. Now much depends on Le Pen’s skill and her program. In my opinion, she still has untapped resources to attract voters. We will examine this question in our next article. 

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To be continued in Part 2…

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