French Presidential candidate, Francois Fillon, has called for a 12:00pm (local time – 6:00am U.S. Eastern Time zone) press conference. This comes a day after he cancelled a trip to the annual Paris Agricultural Fair. My hunch is Fillon may be ending his bid for the French presidency.
UPDATE 8:00am EST Fillon is staying in – French presidential candidate Francois Fillon will remain in the race, saying he won’t quit, even as judges plan to charge him with misuse of public funds. Bloomberg’s Caroline Connan reports on “Bloomberg Surveillance.” (Source: Bloomberg)
[L-R: Emmanuel Macron (2nd place in polling), Francois Fillon (3rd place in current polling), and Marine Le Pen (current first round polling leader)]
Within French presidential politics the Paris Agricultural Fair is similar in political tradition to the Iowa State Fair during U.S .Presidential election years. Marine Le Pen was there over the past weekend.
Fillon’s campaign has been backsliding ever since a toxic corruption scandal broke exposing he may have paid his wife a parliamentary salary without her actually doing any work. Francois Fillon denies the accusations but an investigation is ongoing.
If Fillon drops out, this actually shows a larger concern within French political circles, known for their internal parliamentary style deal-making, that Marin Le Pen is growing too large in her base of support and her opposition needs to unite to eliminate the threat that her nationalistic campaign represents.
Fillon is currently polling in third place; prior to the scandal with his wife he was in second. The preferred “establishment globalist” candidate is now the independent candidate Emmanuel Macron who has moved into second place – with Marine Le Pen still polling as the leader in the first round of elections.
In the past two weeks almost all of the primary political establishment elites have moved their support into the Macron column. This has helped him to surge in the polls as a Jeb Bush type squish for the political establishment. [Yes, there are remarkable parallels – albeit divergent ideologies]
Emmanuel Macron is self-identified as an “independent” in a smart tactical effort to help him avoid being defined by his opposition. However, those who have been following French politics have seen that both Francois Fillon and Emmanuel Macron are various shades of the same center-right party. [Essentially, Sarkozy-lite]
Due to the rise of nationalism -a direct outcome from terrorist and immigration issues- the far left has no chance in this election. Hollande is not even trying to win re-election. Socialist Benoit Hamon and hard-left Jean-Luc Melenchon, are both stuck polling 13.5 percent and 11.5 percent respectively (LINK), not near enough to qualify for a round two runoff between the top two candidates.
Therefore the real threat to the EU is only Marine Le Pen who has announced her intention to provide a Frexit referendum if she were to win the election.
Both Macron and Fillon are pro-EU and reflect no intention to withdraw from the European Union. (Hamon and Melenchon are obviously pro-EU).
This latest move, if indeed Fillon drops out, would indicate a power maneuver of pressure within the larger French political structures to form a coalition against the continued rise of Marine Le Pen. The thinking would be that most of Fillon’s supporters will go with Macron and therefore put him solidly in the lead.
In essence this would be like a reverse splitter strategy. Get above Le Pen’s polling ceiling and possibly end the election in round #1. If a single candidate can gain over 50% there is no round #2 vote – the presidential election is over.
This looks like the political strategy of the power elites within France. We’ll know with certainty if Francois Fillon does indeed drop out today.