Fillon discredited by Penelope-Gate scandal
The rapid ascent of the French conservative presidential candidate François Fillon has come to an abrupt end following reports that he got his wife Penelope Fillon a fake job as a parliament aide for which she received almost a million euros in total. Fillon, who was the favourite to win the election before the scandal broke, has seen his approval ratings plummet. Observers fear that Marine Le Pen will benefit most from the affair.
A painful choice
The apparently large selection of suitable candidates in France has shrunken considerably, the Tages-Anzeiger complains:
“Within a few days Fillon has been reduced to a regular politician like all the others. In other words, one of the powerful who preaches vinegar while pouring themselves champagne. … France's still incumbent Socialists (PS) are saying farewell to realpolitik. Their leading candidate Benoît Hamon, a convinced far-left politician, is popular above all among young voters. The only problem is that the hugely indebted nation will never be able to cover the 750-euro basic income he has promised for all French citizens. … But it is questionable whether in a world full of Trumps, Putins and Erdoğans the French will actually put their nation in the hands of a 39-year-old novice. A difficult decision. Will the French succumb to the populist temptation? Or will they accept that their system doesn't produce the perfect candidate?”
Entire political class discredited
Although the investigations against Penelope Fillon are unlikely to begin before the presidential election the scandal has already had disastrous consequences, Libération comments:
“Of course Fillon can go on fighting. ... Even before these most recent revelations, however, a poll showed that three-quarters of the voters don't believe he's sincere. How many will be left after this salvo, which looks very much like a coup de grâce? And can Fillon really count on the solidarity of the right, bearing in mind all the ill will simmering in the Sarkozy and Juppé camps? An abyss is opening up under his party's feet. No upright individual can be satisfied by current developments. A dizzy feeling prevails. Because the entire political class will suffer from these portentous events.”