On the French Political Melodrama and or Farce, episode LI: Fillon makes a comeback, & other considerations. Committed Observer comments

My essay will look at Fillon as one of the main protagonists in this political farce, through the lens of The Financial Times reporters and editors. This French serio-comic melodrama as played out in the pages of this Neo-Liberal newspaper, in its headlines and sub-headlines, as a barometer of the changing political fortunes of Marinetti/Thatcherite Fillon, as it has evolved over time. And to consider the other actors in this political contest.

Headline:Pressure builds on François Fillon to quit French contest

Sub-headline: Former favourite cries foul but polls point to defeat in first round of presidential race

February 3, 2017 


The early Financial Times’ enthusiasm for Fillon:

Headline: Amateur racing driver Fillon enters fast lane of French politics

Sub-headline: Frontrunner for rightwing presidential nomination draws on four decades of experience

November 21, 2016


The debate with Juppé:

Headline: Alain Juppé tries to regain ground in French presidential debate

Sub-headline: Former favourite for centre-right nomination takes attack to new frontrunner Fillon

November 25, 2016



Fillon’s Political Reprieve?

Headline: Fillon wins temporary reprieve in French embezzlement probe

Sub-headline: Investigation now unlikely to finish before presidential election

February 25,2017


What of one of the other political protagonists in this contest, Macron?

Headline: Emmanuel Macron proposes Nordic economic model for France

Sub-headline: Centrist presidential hopeful opts for blend of fiscal restraint and public spending

February 23, 2017


The Financial Times reports that Macron’s economic position of ‘revolution’, advocated in his book published in November, in February 23, 2017 edition of newspaper, has evolved into his most recent position that he will govern as “neither on the right nor on the left”: Neo-Neo-Liberalism or Neo-Liberalism with Human Face. Or perhaps, Macron’s economic philosophy is related to, or is a variant of the ‘Hard Pragmatism’ advocated by Sir Paul Collier in the January 25, 2017 edition of The Times Literary Supplement?


Macron’s economic plans

  • Targets for €60bn cut in public spending by 2022, from 55 per cent of GDP to 52 per cent
  • Cut up to 120,000 state jobs by not replacing retiring civil servants
  • A €50bn stimulus over five years, including training for unemployed and transition to green economy
  • Deficit below 3 per cent of GDP, in line with EU requirements
  • Negotiate a eurozone budget and EU-wide investment programme with Germany
  • Lower corporate tax from 33 per cent to 25 per cent. Keep Socialist government’s tax breaks on salaries
  • Extend unemployment benefits to entrepreneurs, farmers, self-employed and those who quit jobs voluntarily
  •  Exempt 80 per cent of households from local housing tax — a €10bn measure
  • Financial investment excluded from wealth tax
  • Keep retirement age and pensions intact


Just in case the reader of The Financial Times missed the February 23 news report, here in the February 24, 2017 issue is an expanded version of the same news report:

Headline: Macron substitutes economic moderation for political ‘revolution’

Sub-headline : Centrist French presidential contender outlines Nordic-style economic platform


The revelatory editorial of February 22, 2017 demonstrates the depth of the cynicism of both The Financial Times, and the editorial writer Sudhir Hazareesingh, who is lecturer in politics at Balliol College, Oxford and author of ‘How the French Think’.

Headline: Marine Le Pen has a better chance in France than you think

Sub-headline: The National Front benefits from a neutered right, a flaky centre and a divided left


Here is what is more succinctly said in the headline and sub-headline, than in Hazareesingh’s belabored essay, that flirts with a muted political hysteria:

With a neutered right, a flaky centre and a divided left, the only beneficiary has been Marine Le Pen — fittingly, as her far-right National Front is the inheritor of the Poujadiste tradition. She is now clearly the frontrunner, and though the polls predict that she would lose to any mainstream candidate in the second round of the presidential election, the margins of her projected defeats are getting thinner.

One need only look to the American election of 2016, which demonstrates that the technocrats/experts can be misled, by their cultivated political and ideological myopia, not to speak of their misdirected desire to be right.

Committed Observer

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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