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France’s presidential hopeful François Fillon is between a rock and a hard place

The format of the primary, a foreign anglo-saxon concept which doesn’t fit in the culture of the fifth republic, put him in a situation where he has to fight on two main fronts, reuniting the fragmented right, its allies, and winning his place at the second round of the elections against Marine Le Pen, or the candidate of what is left of the leftists.

His program was tough enough to win the heart of the rightist voters, but in a general election battle, he is in the worst position, stuck between Marine Le Pen and probably Emmanuel Macron. The left primary turned into an expected disaster, and the candidate of what is left of the socialist party, Benoit Hamon, probably, will be floating at the fifth position, behind Le Pen, Fillon, Macron and Mélenchon.

François Fillon may not make it to the second leg of the election to face Marine Le Pen. The level of desperation of the French voters is playing in favor of Macron, a candidate who came from nowhere and who is going nowhere. His program is an abyssal vacuum of ready-to-wear liberal solutions, but he still crystallizes the desire for a change of the pseudo-French elites, even despite the fact that he was the Economy Minister for François Hollande.

Macron is presenting himself as the anti-establishment candidate, which is kind of ironic for someone who made part of his career at the Rothschild bank. He is able to draw voters from the socialist party, the center and some light rightists. Meanwhile, his social and economic policies are working against him. In a state loving country like France, where you have almost 6 millions state employees, twice more than the United Kingdom, the “Thatcherist” flavor of his economic program is seen as the ultimate taboo by the middle classes.

The main danger for Fillon’s campaign is the backpedaling, which he has already started. After beeing attacked by the mainstream media and the opposition on every angle from social welfare, budget reduction, and foreign policy, he is starting to back off from his initial proposals. His margin of maneuver is pretty thin with two ambushes on the sides – Marine Le Pen to his right and Emmanuel Macron to the left.

Le Pen has already identified Fillon’s weaknesses and readjusted her offensive, focusing now on Macron. For the Front National, Macron is starting to be seen as the ideal opponent. He and Le Pen have two radically opposite visions of where France should stand. On one side – a liberal supporter of globalization (Macron), on the other – a strong sovereignist (Le Pen). And while it is difficult to predict the outcome of the election, a Macron presidency has now entered the realms of possibilities.

Marine Le Pen still stands as the main anti-system candidate, and she will draw the votes of the frustrated population, mainly in the first round. I predict she will get much better scores than what the polls are showing, but the second round will be tougher to win. The timorous French voter may not be ready for a radical change.

Le Pen still lacks credibility in terms of a team able to take the reins of the country, but so does Macron. The key will be the level of rejection of the system and the established political class. The dirt digging, which has already commenced against Fillon and Macron, should help Le Pen in this regard.

Fillon is being accused of hiring his wife for a fictive parliament job, and he is taking a big dive in the polls. Macron is also being accused of using public money to finance his campaign when he was the economy minister, and of hiding his wealth to avoid taxes. 
If Fillon wants to secure his place in the second round, he will have to re-focus his campaign strategy on Macron, which means put some water in his wine, without paving the way for Le Pen.

After the Brexit and Trump’s election, the mainstream media seem not to have understood the lesson. They are now branding Marine Le Pen as the Russian candidate, accusing her of being a Putin sympathizer or worse – an agent of the Kremlin. Sound familiar?

If history does, in fact, repeats itself and the people of France express their angriness and frustration with the establishment, a devastating blow will be dealt to the anthill know as the EU.

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