Is Fillon still a viable candidate?

The French conservative presidential candidate François Fillon announced on Wednesday that he will not withdraw from the presidential race despite the fact that he faces a judicial inquiry into a fake job allegedly held by his wife. He accused the judiciary of waging a campaign against him. With his statement Fillon has disqualified himself as president, some journalists believe. Others praise the candidate for putting the French people's will first.

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Le Soir (BE) /

Fillon endangering democracy

At his press conference Fillon stressed that not the judiciary but only the French people should decide who becomes the country's next president. After such a statement he no longer deserves to become president, Le Soir believes:

“François Fillon has called on the people to carry out justice. That makes him a danger to democracy. Above all because it was to save his own skin that the politician insulted constitutional democracy, put himself above the law and questioned the independence of the French judiciary. As a candidate Fillon has disqualified himself from the presidential race: anyone who calls on the people to take the law into their own hands should not become the president of a democratic republic or represent the people's rights. ... François Fillon and Marine Le Pen, both accused of practices judged to be in breach of the law, have basically adopted the same response, evoking conspiracies, questioning the competence of the judiciary and the media, and making grave accusations regarding the efficiency of the institutions.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

An inadmissible act of force

Le Figaro, in contrast, concurs with Fillon that the will of the people should override the judiciary:

“He is right. Giving in to the judicial demands that he withdraw would have meant both a denial of justice and a denial of democracy. ... Two options are now open. Either François Fillon will be beaten in the presidential race and the judiciary will resume where it left off in two months' time, or he will be elected and the French people will have shown with their vote that the moral offence that he has admitted to weighs less in their minds than the good of their country. The course of justice would be suspended for his time in office, but the sovereign people would have had their say. No act of force on the part of the judges should deprive them of this right.”

The Independent (GB) /

A windfall for Marine Le Pen

François Fillon's decision to pursue his candidacy only strengthens Marine Le Pen's hand because it reaffirms the image she presents of the French political elite, The Independent complains:

“As is already the case, Mr Fillon will be distracted and under constant media pressure until the first polling day, on 23 April, and, if he gets that far, right to the decisive run-off on 7 May, when he will almost certainly be opposing the National Front's Ms Le Pen. Ms Le Pen will make the most of this political windfall. If she had wanted a symbol of the decadence of the French political elite she could hardly have summoned up a more vivid symbol than Françcois Fillon, the former prime minister, minister and career politician.”