Friday

26th Apr 2019

European right hopes Macron will save France

  • Emmanuel Macron was received by Angela Merkel on 16 March (Photo: Diplomacy)

Not long ago, Francois Fillon was considered the most likely winner of the French presidential election in May.

But after he was charged for embezzlement over suspicions of fake parliamentary jobs for his wife and children, even his European allies seem to have lost hope.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • "The damage is done," an EPP official said about the impact on voters of the charges against Fillon for embezzlement (Photo: Reuters/Pascal Rossignol)

Meanwhile, the fear of seeing far-right candidate Marine Le Pen taking power is growing.

"People are worried, they are wondering what is going on in France," Joseph Daul, president of the European People's Party (EPP), told EUobserver on the margins of the EPP congress in Malta this week.

"And it goes further than that. There are already committees, at the highest level, working on the hypothesis that France leaves the euro and the EU," he said.

He declined to specify whether these working groups were in EU capitals or in the EU institutions.

Officials in Brussels have warned about the consequences for France and the EU if Le Pen were to be elected, but have said so far that that they do not want to envisage a Le Pen scenario.

The National Front (FN) leader has said that she wants to "do away with the EU," and has promised to organise a referendum on the country's EU membership.

Her possible election "has been a risk for some time," a high level EU source said recently, pointing to the "explosion" of the two main parties, the Socialist Party (PS) of outgoing president Francois Hollande and Fillon's Republicans.

In the most recent poll published on Wednesday (29 March), Socialist Party (PS) candidate Benoit Hamon was credited with only 10 percent of voting intentions and Fillon with 18 percent. Both were far behind Le Pen (with 24 percent) and independent candidate Emmanuel Macron (with 25.5 percent).

'Nothing is predictable'

Most polls put Le Pen ahead in the first round on 23 April. And while Macron is leading in polls for the second round on 7 May, a high number of undecided voters and uncertainties over the turnout make the polls unreliable.

"Nothing is predictable," another top EPP official said in Malta, referring to the risk of seeing some Fillon supporters voting for Le Pen in the second round if their candidate does not qualify.

Fillon, who is campaigning, did not attend the EPP congress and addressed delegates through a very short video message.

"I think it would have done him some good to be with heads of state and governments, because he would have had the EPP support," Daul said.

The EPP counts the heads of the three EU institutions among its members, as well as seven heads of EU states and governments.

Privately, however, delegates suggested that Fillon's chances were over, and some even said he should have withdrawn from the race.

"The damage is done," one party official noted, referring to the impact the charges against the conservative candidate had on voters.

Asked whether Fillon was still a good candidate for his party, the official did not reply verbally but made a hand gesture indicating that he did not believe so.

Hopes that Fillon doesn't win

"We don't see how Fillon can win and some come to hoping he doesn't win," said Alain Lamassoure, who, until last October, was the leader of the French EPP delegation in the European Parliament.

Fillon's friendly position towards Russia and attacks against France's judiciary have shocked some in the EPP.

During its congress, the EPP adopted a resolution against corruption and announced it will soon adopt a code of ethics.

A party source told EUobserver that, although at first the resolution was aimed towards some EPP parties outside the EU, it was considered more urgent due to Fillon's case and that the code of ethics was a direct reaction to it.

With the risk of seeing Le Pen leading the EU's second largest country, many EPP politicians "hope that Macron will win," Lamassoure said, saying publicly what other delegates had expressed privately.

He explained that Macron, who was Hollande's former economy minister, is acceptable to the EPP because "he is European, young, honest and has an economic programme based on social market economy".

"The interest of France's partners is that France is really governed," he said.

Among France's partners is Germany, where chancellor Angela Merkel, an EPP leader, "is looking at what is going on," Daul said. "She is worried because it is not neutral for the Franco-German engine."

Merkel, who received Fillon in Berlin in January, also met with Macron, as well as with Hamon earlier this month.

"I think that Fillon suited Merkel well," the EPP president said, using the past tense to suggest that Merkel, too, would make the best of having Macron in the Elysee palace.

A French translation of this article may be found here.

A German translation of this article may be found here.

French candidates avoid EU debate

In their first TV debate, the main candidates for the April election only briefly discussed the country's EU policies, with far-right Le Pen and centrist Macron taking aim at each other.

Macron meets Merkel, says France must reform

The independent liberal candidate to the presidential election said in Berlin that France must reform itself if it wants to remain close to Germany and play a role in Europe.

La droite européenne regarde vers Macron pour sauver la France

Avec un François Fillon empêtré sans les affaires judicaires, un des leaders du parti populaire européen affirme que des "commissions" travaillent sur ce que se passerait si Marine Le Pen l'emportait et faisait sortir la France de l'UE.

Europas Konservative hoffen, dass Macron Frankreich rettet

Vor dem Hintergrund des fast sicheren Aus von Fillon bei den anstehenden Wahlen, arbeiten laut eines europäischen Spitzenpolitikers "Arbeitsgruppen" daran, was im Falle zu tun ist das Le Pen siegt und Frankreich aus der EU führt.

News in Brief

  1. EU: Russian citizenship plan 'attacks' Ukraine sovereignty
  2. Deutsche Bank hands over Trump loan documents
  3. UN: Europe is badly prepared for new refugee crisis
  4. Macron to set out 'Yellow vest' counter measures
  5. Italy requests EU action plan for new Libya migrant wave
  6. Far-right party leaders meet in Prague
  7. Priest shames politicians at reporter's funeral in Belfast
  8. Putin offers Russian citizenship to Ukraine regions

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Opinion

The democratic swindle of the Spitzenkandidat

The Spitzenkandidat system has become an instrument of the promotion of MEPs (often German), and was supposed to make Europe more democratic. Reality has revealed the opposite.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Greens commit to air quality 'super commissioner'
  2. Far-right Facebook networks removed before Spain election
  3. EU and Japan in delicate trade talks
  4. Closer EU-Caribbean ties mean greater prosperity for all
  5. Details of EU Brexit talks with Blair and Soros kept secret
  6. Weber vows to block Nord Stream 2 amid 'sue' threat
  7. 'Next Juncker' must fix EU's corporate power problem
  8. EU want Facebook pan-EU advert fix for May elections

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us