‘Fillon has to take the role of victim to survive French presidential race’
Fillon says he will not withdraw from the election, despite having received a summons to face charges he created fake jobs for family members. He's denied all the allegations and says legal procedures have not been properly followed. He has referred to the investigation as a political assassination and unprecedented during an election campaign.
RT: Francois Fillon has called the investigation into the fake jobs scandal a "political assassination". What do you think he means by this?
Nikola Mirkovich: This is extremely complicated for him; he has been smeared by this campaign since the beginning. Don’t forget that a couple of months ago when he won the candidacy for “Les Republicains”, everyone thought at that time that he was practically going to be the next president. And all these problems he has been having since January and since this information that he may be caught up in…embezzlement or creating fake jobs…He is falling in the opinion polls. It is difficult for him to go to meetings without having people scream at him or call him out on the streets, talking out about this. So, he is having this difficult time. People are wondering now, is he a correct candidate. Now, he is being summoned by a judge on March, 15 to say that he is going to be put under investigation. And what is extremely complicated for him is that if he wants to survive in this race he has to take the position of the victim. That is why he has been using these very harsh strong words: he is talking about resistance, he says this is to defy democracy, that there is a political assassination…
Don’t forget that March,15 is just two days prior to the deadline for candidates to submit their candidacy for the presidential election in France. So this is why he is using these words and insinuating in any case that there may be some sort of cabal against him in the system of some people in power today.
Luc Rivet, chief editor of Le Peuple Newspaper: Clearly, the investigating magistrate is making political acts by coming up with this now and calling Francois Fillon for indictment on March 15… It is really a political assassination. And it is very probably politically motivated because it goes so fast, much faster than any type of indictment before. Other candidates were also under attack - but Fillon is really at the center of the problem.
RT: Recent polls have put Fillon as one of the three lead candidates in the presidential race. What are his chances like now?
NM: We will see how the people will react. Of course, this is very bad news for him that he is being put under investigation. Now people are seeing that what was a smear campaign is getting something a little bit more collateral to it. We will see how he can resist this…He is having a hard time fighting back. We see that also he is not the kind of candidate who has the stamina to react. A lot of the candidates today are being smeared by different cases of problems with the Justice Ministry. A lot of them are reacting quite fiercely. It has been more difficult for him.
He took a strong stance this morning … he used very strong words. We’ll see if he will be able during the next more or less sixty days to keep up with that image of the resistance against the system and motivate the French to go vote for him. It is going to be extremely tough, that is for sure.
RT: A lot of analysts are saying this race has been one of the dirtiest in modern French politics. What do you think has been driving this?
NM: For many reasons, I think that people now are living in societies where anything goes and a lot of these hits are being delivered under the belt. Fillon said himself “why all this information is coming now”. He has been in the political system for years…Parties or organizations are now using such information as a political stance, political [blows] to hurt their adversaries. And every political party has information or has something to smear the other candidates. They are just waiting for the big moments like a presidential election to use this... This is just an image of French political system that has been for the past decades been using the system, profiting from the system, who got many cases of embezzlement all across the political spectrum. And this is some payback time for some of this political candidates who took advantage of the system…Maybe this could be a strong signal to the rest of the political system in France to be careful…
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.