By they I mean the French establishment.
Just a few weeks ago, it looked like the presidential race would come down to a second round contest between centre-right outsider Francois Fillon and Marine Le Pen neither of whom are acceptable to the French establishment. Clearly something had to be done. First it was the strategic leaking of a so-called investigation into Francois Fillon’s parliamentary expenses (he’s accused of paying his wife and children for non-jobs out of his parliamentary budget). It’s questionable whether Fillon’s done anything illegal as this sort of nepotism is permitted in France, but the “investigation” rolls on with further details of interviews of family members, and threats of charges appearing in the press, damaging the image of a candidate who in the past was seen as untainted by the personal and financial corruption in which most French pols and their families wallow.
Now it’s Le Pen’s turn with a raid on her office relating to old allegations that she paid FN staffers out of her European Parliamentary budget.
The obvious beneficiary of Fillon’s and Le Pen’s legal troubles is third party candidate Emmanuel Macron who claims to be an outsider but has establishment stalkinng horse written all over him and who has the connections within the French bureaucracy to get the dirt on his rivals publicized:
It is clear that Macron has powerful supporters behind the scenes, and a clue may lie in the little-discussed fact that some years ago he was identified as a member of ‘les Gracques’ — a discreet centre-left pressure group loosely staffed by influential chief executives and civil service mandarins. They are pro-market socialists who long ago gave up on the Socialist party. Many are fellow ‘énarques’ (graduates of ENA) and every step of Macron’s career could have been directed by them. Spotted as a brilliant and charming student, Macron could first have been launched into the prestigious state Finance Inspectorate, then switched into Rothschild to gain business experience (and wealthy support) and then placed like a time bomb in Hollande’s outer office, where he ticked away until he could be moved into the heart of the Valls government. Last August he finally exploded into action at the perfect moment to cause maximum damage to Hollande, Valls and the entire Socialist presidential election campaign. Macron’s rise bears all the hallmarks of a classic ENA undercover operation, a fundamental part of the énarques’ stock-in-trade and one in which the country’s leading bureaucrats are cynically trained.
For what it’s worth, I think the attempted kneecapping of Fillon and Le Pen is going to backfire. For one thing Macron doesn’t appear to be ready for prime time just yet, and questions and rumours are stilling swirling around his rather odd personal life. And it has been nearly ten days since it was promised that Fillon and his wife would be indicted “this week”. Now the impending charges have been downgraded to “a financial prosecutor said that an investigation into fake work allegations concerning him and his wife, Penelope Fillon, would remain open.” The timing of the raid on Le Pen’s office (the second such raid because apparently they didn’t find enough evidence the first time) suggests that a plan B is in the works – if they can’t charge Fillon then they’ll have a go at Le Pen instead. Or lacking enough evidence to charge either they’ll just drag the legal circuses out in an attempt to smear both candidates.
The longer this drags out, the sooner French voters are going to come to the conclusion that they investigations are politically motivated if they already haven’t. The latest polls show Le Pen increasing her lead in first round voting intentions and narrowed her second round deficit. They also have Fillon running neck-in-neck with Macron despite nearly a month of nonstop criminal allegations. Throw in more missteps by Macron, a terrorist attack, or a continuation of the rioting that is currently plaguing Paris and it French establishment may prove as helpless as their American counterparts.