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FRANCE : THE LAND OF ULTIMATE DISGRACE




As France prepares for the next presidential elections to be held on April 23 and a run-off on May 7, outrageous political scandals burst, one after the other, throwing absolute discredit on the French Democracy.

PENELOPEGATE

A scandal hit on last wednesday, soon going viral on social media. Two months after being elected in primary for French right (LR/UDI/PDC), ultraliberal, pro-European and conservative French presidential candidate François Fillon is under pressure to explain the role of his British wife in his political operation, after a prominent investigative weekly “le Canard enchaîné” alleged that she had been paid more than €500,000 in eight years, out of parliamentary funds. It was reported that the salary was supposed to remunerate a parliamentary assistant job to her husband and then, to his friend and successor, but the paper claimed it could find no trace of her ever having carried out the work and no witnesses to her doing the job. The news went immediately viral on social media and TV networks, as France’s financial prosecutor opened a preliminary inquiry into the misuse of public funds. Beyond the scandalous salary amount, the problem is that 61yo Penelope Fillon has repeatedly presented herself as a shy housewife, declaring to the press very recently:“I have never played any political role in my husband’s 36 years carrier, but rose our four children”. M. and Mrs. Fillon are the lucky owners of a superb mansion located in the close surroundings of Brittany’s pastoral landscape. Furthermore, several journalists and Parliament representatives certified that they had never seen Penelope in Assemblée Nationale (The French low chamber), while parliamentary assistants were literally in shock after being told she was actually one among their hard working colleagues. If hiring family members is legal for French MPs and not against parliamentary rules – as long as the person is genuinely employed- then how could her public statements ever match with any sort of public funds salary?

As soon as his next public appearance, an arrogant François Fillon strongly denied any sort of wrong doing, while stating : “I am scandalised to hear of such allegations. Is it because Penelope is my wife, that she isn’t supposed to work? Le Canard enchaîné’s article was awfully misogynistic”. Meanwhile, as despicable as it immediately rang to the French audience’ ears, women’s rights cause was irrelevant to the present case. An explanation on the substance was expected. During the primary campaign held from September to mid-November 2016, let’s mention that Fillon was the only serious candidate who could benefit from a virgin criminal record. In 2003, Center-right progressive liberal Alain Juppé had been convicted in the place of former President Jacques Chirac for fictitious public employment. As for ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy, he was being charged with 2 separate indictments that are still running, as far as today. In a particular meeting, Fillon went as far as declaring: “Who could possibly imagine (a new) General De Gaulle with a criminal record?”. That comment was thoroughly appreciated. Whenever interviewed, the candidate has always abundantly described himself as “an anti-system candidate, an honest, austere and irreproachable antidote to years of corruption scandals happening in France”. Although not an exception, corruption is indeed a rampant marker of the French political system. For decades, the notorious collusion between mainstream media, stars, industrialists and politicians have left the French citizens helpless in the face of recurrent abuse of privileges, acts of corruption, embezzlement, favoritism and impunity. One could mention unfair tax reductions, tax evasion and frauds, sex affairs, unmerited promotions for so called university intellectuals carrying out fallacious propaganda in the name of misconceived notion of good citizenship, unfair trials.…). For instance, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, was recently found guilty of negligence after a trial over a €400 million compensation awarded in 2008 to Bernard Tapie, a well-connected businessman, when she was Nicolas Sarkozy’s Minister for Finance. Although she avoided a sentence and denied wrongdoings, the verdict came as a shock to the French audience, as the case was not held before a regular Civil Court but a special “Law Court of the Republic”, an anti-democratic though constitutional body exclusively devoted to cases of ministerial misconduct. As for sexual affairs between journalists and politicians, let’s not go down that street, as the dossier is as heavy as dirty. In the overall, let’s only conclude that as far as today, the French oligarchy has made sure that the establishment is preserved. In his TV appearance on thursday evening, Fillon showed no documentation to prove his wife’s work. However, he declared: “My wife has always worked for me; she has always been by my side in my public life. She corrected my speeches, she met a huge number of people who I couldn’t see, she represented me at events, she did press reviews for me and she passed on people’s requests(…) My wife’s work is real, legal, transparent and I will sue newspapers who say my wife had a fake job”. Further on, he made a shocking confession, worrying that ‘Le Canard enchaîné’ might uncover it in its next Wednesday’s edition: “I have also employed two of my children who are lawyers. I have chosen them not because they were my children, but for their excellent expertise”. Both were paid from public funds. The problem is that at that time, the two children were still students. In 2013, a “Law for Transparency” was voted. From that moment forward, every senator was expected to publish the names of the team working for him. Quite surprisingly, this is the exact time when both Mrs Fillon and the two children stopped working for the candidate. Fillon finally added: “The work of a parliamentary assistant is not a job that has precise norms, nor a job that you necessarily do in an office. A parliamentary assistant is an adviser who carries out their role near their boss and you can’t say that we didn’t spend time together. I’m the victim of a dirty plot. There’s something rotten in this democracy, “.However, It seems that he’s been very happy living on it for over three decades. Then, how can he possibly be presented as an anti-system candidate?

France’s prosecutor’s financial office is also looking at a second job revealed by Le Canard Enchaîné and alleging that Penelope Fillon was paid €100.000 -between May 2012 and December 2013- by a literary review owned by a billionaire businessman and friend of Fillon. When interviewed, the editor publicly declared: “I have never seen her at the magazine. I only know of two short book reviews she wrote in that time, published under a pseudonym”.On that second case, Fillon insisted: “My wife’s role on the literary review was an advisory one and he had seen her doing the work”. How convenient, isn’t it ?

More to come soon. Within the last hours, new developments objectified that up to 20% of the most prominent Parliament’s representatives and senators, including the current President Claude Bartolone, had employed mistresses, wives, siblings…as parliamentary assistants. All of them stopped when the Law for Transparency was voted in 2013…

MACRONGATE : Emmanuel Macron, the paramount of a rigged system ?

Four days ago, right-wing liberal representatives Christian Jacob (LR) and Philippe Vignier(UDI) accused former Minister for Economic Affairs, Emmanuel Macron of misuse of public funds (€120 to 150.000), while still in office. Both called him a “liar” and an “impostor”, claiming the money served to launch Emmanuel Macron’s progressive liberal party “En Marche!”. Quite simultaneously, two journalists released a book “Dans l’enfer de Bercy”(in the Hell of Bercy) which points out certain questionable ambivalences that prevailed within Bercy -the French Ministry for Economic Affairs and Finances – when under partial Macron’s supervision. It is reported that the limit set between what was asked from civil servants and assistants in terms of public tasks and what was related to the Minister’s political activities was often vague and confusing. Sworn into office in August 2014, after being one of President Hollande’s personal counselors from 2012 to 2014, the man was never loved by the people. In various occasions, he deeply hurt their feelings. Once, soon after visiting a plant in Brittany, he declared that the workers were illiterate people. Another time, staring at a young unemployed male, he advised him to go and find a job, so that he could be able to buy a perfect suit like his. Unemployment rate in France is roughly 10% and similarly to many other industrialized countries since the 1980s, to substitute capital for labour through automation has become increasingly profitable, but only to a class of happy few. As a result, owners of capital have captured ever more of the Europe/world’s income, while the share going to labour has drastically fallen. At the same time, inequality among the employed has risen sharply, with the share going to the highest earners soaring. M. Macron is precisely the genitor of a law which dismantled the French Labour Code last May, although 75% of the population strongly opposed it. Furthermore, the former banker was never a faithful person to the President, nor to his PM, Manuel Valls. As early as 2015, he started campaigning for his self-promotion and was suspected to raise funds when touring on foreign official visits. As it applies to his best opponent M. François Fillon, the ambitious and egotistic man is currently supported by many French industrialists, telecommunications and media network owners, like the sulfurous and anti-patriotic Patrick Drahi (SFR, NextRadio, BFMTV, i24news) whose best man Bernard Mourad serves as personal advisor for economic affairs to the candidate. Once, an advisor to Hearst international group in a major takeover (Lagardère magazines), M. Mourad was also Altice media group owner. So what about Macron’s political offer? The candidate doesn’t talk much about international issues, although fiercely lecturing President Trump in a public meeting lately on immigration, diversity and Islam. Does this young progressive liberal know the difference between Islam and radical islamic threat ? Does he understand what patriotism and extreme vetting mean ? Can he agree that the first role of a President is to take all necessary measures to ensure the best protection for its fellow citizens ? Has he noticed that Europe was a mess and the European Union a tyrannical dictatorship ? He often refers to freedom, then why don’t european leaders allow their respective peoples to speak up via a brexit-like referendum, before any further consideration regarding an alternative Europe ?  Is he the puppet of the European global players ? Is he all about more of a disastrous globalization and open borders for the sole benefit of the establishment he has always belonged to ? M. Macron’s program is based on the apparently attractive option of becoming a self-entrepreneur. Therefore, he is fairly popular among the young population. But the dream may hide a nasty reality: the law of the jungle which will throw millions belonging to the same sector of activity in a fierce competition and recurrent precariousness, while allowing big companies to capitalize on a tremendous pool of talents and reduce their labour costs in the very same way as they play the stock market. There is no fiscal or social harmonization within the Euro-zone. Therefore, fiscal and social dumpings will carry on. This is what M.Macron calls “His revolution”….

Will the French people go to the polls for a traitor who despises the poorest, wants to trap them into an ugly game and has proven himself to be an unreliable person who “betrayed” his former boss “with method”, as President Hollande once put it ? Who ever knows how strong a system can be? Nevertheless, Macron describes himself as an anti-system candidate… He may be charged with intolerable misuse of public funds and possible conflicts of interest, if only the system didn’t protect him. As far as today, France’s financial prosecutor didn’t open a preliminary inquiry. Let’s wonder why. Lastly, two years ago, Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte (her former French teacher when he was in High school) were suspected of committing a real-estate under-estimation in order to avoid the payment of ISF (French tax on Big Wealth). Are shadowy men stronger than “We, the people”?

In solidarity,

©Mylene Doublet O’Kane, Jan 27, 2017





Post Graduate in Philosophy and Education, Mylene Doublet-O'Kane is an Israeli-French teacher, an independant editorialist and the author of a partially fictionalized biography entitled "L'Humanité devant soi" which exposes a philosophical vision of the modern world through the eyes of a Holocaust survivor and the ones of a young Professor. The relationship between the two heroines can be compared to the holding of an international conference where a critical debate takes place on key ontological themes in the post-modern era.



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