December 1, 2016


Can this man save France from the far right? (Christine Ockrent, November 30, 2016, Washington Post)

Fillon is bad news for the far right. He would not commit the mistake of Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president he defeated in the first round, by copying Le Pen's oratory or her Trump-style "anti-system" populism. On the contrary, a practicing Catholic with five children, the president of "Les R├ępublicains" is the embodiment of the French establishment, entrenched in old bourgeois, provincial tradition.

An elected politician since the age of 27, Fillon has quietly and consistently played to concerns about identity and values, which have proved to be more acute than pollsters had assumed. He has condemned Islamism and pleaded against multiculturalism on the premise that citizens have to abide by the same principles whatever their origins or religion. The noise and rattle of Le Pen's arguments, with their subtle racial overtones, do not go down quite as well. The shift already shows: according to the first polls conducted since last Sunday, Fillon would defeat Le Pen if elections were to be held now.

The National Front leader has been prompt to realize she has no other choice but to attack Fillon on his economic and social platform. The bazookas are ready: Isn't he the "ultra-liberal" disciple of that English witch Margaret Thatcher? Hasn't he promised to erase 500,000 jobs in the public sector, curb the unions, end the 35-hour workweek and even revisit the welfare system? That could be more than enough to energize the blue-collar workers, teachers and civil servants who have enlarged the core of the far right.

The paradox is that the Socialist party would use exactly the same arguments against Fillon -- if only it had a leader. 

Actually, that's just a dox.

Posted by at December 1, 2016 3:42 PM