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French Elections Battered by Scandals | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Francois Fillon, former French prime minister, member of The Republicans political party and 2017 presidential candidate of the French centre-right, leaves home in Paris, France, February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Paris- The French right-wing is going through a crisis following the scandal of the “fake employments” of the wife of Francois Fillion, once the clear front-runner to become France’s next president, and two of his sons.

Three months prior to the first round of elections, many questions were raised on Fillion’s ability to continue the race as the right-wing’s candidate. After he almost guaranteed his entrance to the Elyse in the coming spring, things have changed. Results of the recent survey showed that Fillion’s qualification to the second round of elections is shaking.

Some observers see that depriving Fillion from his chances in winning the elections was due to a campaign led by media. The Canard Enchainé newspaper, reported that Penelope Fillion, the candidate’s wife served for years as a parliamentary assistant of her husband and the deputy who succeeded him when he became a Prime Minister. The report also said that the conservative candidate’s wife earned more than €400,000 as his parliamentary assistant and £100,000 as a contributor to a literary review owned by a friend.

Also two of Fillon’s children earned £84,000 from the French Senate when their father was one of its members, The Canard Enchaine continued. The French law allows Senate members to recruit family members as assistants. However, Penelope Fillon was accused of earning money without actually working in her position, which is a kind of fraud, especially that the reported sums were huge.

A week after the scandal, Fillon didn’t provide convincing justifications. On Tuesday, the Financial Police Department questioned him and his wife for six hours. Authorities also inspected his office looking for evidence and proofs to clarify these reports, which may wipe out the right-wing’s chance to win these elections and to regain presidency. Few days after the scandal, Fillion said that these procedures target his integrity and his candidature, accusing the communist authority of standing behind this plot.

Political observers in France see that Fillon may be obliged to quit the electoral race if accusations persist. Despite that, the French right-wing has fiercely backed his candidate facing the scandal wave that target him, yet, reports say that the right front has set a plan B, and that names of alternative candidates are being discussed.

Recent polls showed that Fillon’s popularity has dropped five to six points, and that he is expected to receive 19-20% from votes in the first electoral round, to rank third after Emmanuel Macron and Marine le Pen.