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French Presidential Elections: Political Situation on the Brink of Major Change—Again

PARIS, Mar. 3, 2017 (Nouvelle Solidarité)—The French political situation is once again on the verge of undergoing yet another major change. At this point it looks like the candidacy of François Fillon (Les Républicains) will rapidly come to an end. His statement earlier in the week that he would continue till the end, even though he will be indicted on March 15, did not have the wanted effect of strengthening his camp around him.

Shortly after that meeting, high-level officials started jumping ship: Former presidential candidate and minister Bruno Le Maire; Sen. Catherine Vautrin, vice president of the LR group in the Senate; the centrist formation UDI, suspended its participation in the campaign, etc. Some 70 mid-and high-level elected officials quit already yesterday. Today, the hemorrhage has continued with some of the top circles quitting: his spokesman Thierry Sorel, this afternoon; Nathalie Koziusko Morizet, a former LR minister. Jean François Copé a former party president and former minister has reportedly quit and would be working for an Alain Juppé candidacy.

Yesterday already, LR senior deputy George Fenech, called for mayors to sign pledges to put a Juppé candidacy on the ballot. Le Parisien reported that Fenech was working with Copé and others, to start gathering the mayors' signatures for Juppé, with a strategy that when they get the 500 there will be a general call for Juppé to come forth, as the "white knight" candidacy, so to speak. Juppé himself, declared yesterday for the first time since this thing started, that he was ready to jump in to replace Fillon, but that he was loyal and would not move if Fillon asked him not to do so.

So, at this point, it looks like Fillon will be replaced. Note that Juppé is the former Prime Minister under Chirac, but a much more Atlanticist and European version than his former mentor. One of the big differences between Juppé and Fillon is that the latter was openly pro-Russian, and the former is quite anti-Russian, and was the man who oversaw the Franco-British-American war against Serbia, Sarkozy's war against Libya, and the beginning of the war against Syria (for this last he apologized, however).

So we are left with three front runners: Juppé possibly, an Atlanticist; Emmanuel Macron, a Europeanist and an Atlanticist, and Marine Le Pen, still the highest in the polls, with a Trump-like profile but with the added problem of the Le Pen family xenophobia. However, the fear of the Le Pen's Front National is still strong enough that she is not likely to be elected on the second round, this time around.

The next Presidency in this context, will be weak and unable to go for the right solutions.