France’s Le Figaro magazine today is running a cover story into what it calls ‘L’Argent Secret du Front National‘ –The Secret Money of the Front National, in what could be a last-ditch attempt by the French political establishment to stop the surge in support for Marine Le Pen and her anti-EU Front National in the elections to the European Parliament on May 25.
The magazine cover is a shadowy photograph of a sombre Le Pen, her collar turned up like a film noire detective.
Yet the investigation appears to do little more than re-circulate the kind of accusations that swirl around all the main French political parties.
It may be significant that Le Figaro is the voice of the French centre-right party, the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), which is in danger of losing much of its traditional vote to Le Pen in the coming elections.
Latest opinion polls show the Front National running level with the UMP, while the Socialist Party of President Hollande is a distant third.
More, Le Figaro backs former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is also in danger of losing much of his former UMP support to Le Pen if, as expected, he stands in the next presidential election in 2017.
A survey by OpinionWay for Le Figaro published on April 15 showed that President Hollande would easily be knocked out of the race by either Nicholas Sarkozy or Marine Le Pen if the presidential race were run today.
Hollande has mired France in increased taxes, unemployment of over 10 per cent and a growth rate of barely more than zero – as well as an embarrassing scandal involving his personal life with three women, one an actress, another a politician and the third a journalist whom the sleazy former IMF director Dominque Strauss-Kahn had previously tried to seduce.
According to OpinionWay analyst Bruno Jeanbart, “It’s the first time that a president is shown to be in such deep trouble in a poll, and that the National Front is so strongly positioned for the first round (of the presidential race) in the middle of a term.”
This means Sarkozy’s greatest electoral threat in 2017 will be Le Pen, not President Hollande.
Yesterday’s article in Le Figaro hypes up a report that first appeared a year ago in French online journal Mediamart. The year-old report said that the electoral commission was looking into suspicions of fraud in the Front National’s 2012 parliamentary campaign.
Le Figaro uses this old story to suggest, among other things, that the commission “could expand” its inquiries into Le Pen’s 2012 presidential bid.
Le Pen is reported to have responded “furiously” to these suggestions on Twitter. “All this will end as it has every time by a dismissal or acquittal in a few months, but the slander will have fulfilled its role.”
This week Le Pen launched her party’s campaign with an attack on the European Union.
At a rally in Paris in front of the ornate 19th century Opera House, one of the glories of the Second Empire of Napoleon III, Le Pen told a cheering crowd that it was “the duty of patriots” to vote against Brussels.
She said the voters must punish the Brussels “gravediggers,” whom she holds responsible for France’s economic and social decline. She said the European project had turned her country into a nation of impoverished slaves.
“On May 25th, put an end to this system that despises you.”
“Turn your back on dishonour and capitulation.”
“We have to account for everything to the EU, ask permission for everything, as if we were an infantile people. France does not control anything, not its budget, not its currency, not its frontiers. It is time to say ‘stop’ to the EU.”