February 01, 2017
Do Republicans have a plan B if Fillon falls?
François Fillon continues his campaign as if nothing has happened. But new revelations by Le Canard Enchaîné raised the heat on him and prompted some party figures to think about Plan B. The latest allegations are that Penelope Fillon got paid €831,400 over the years, not €500,000 as reported last week, earning sometimes more than €10,000 per month. Worse still, the newspaper also reveals that two of his children got a salary of €84,000 while still studying, with monthly payments of €3814 for a Marie and €4846 for her brother.
What is the reaction among Republicans? Officially the party stands behind Fillon. The Fillons explained their affairs to a magistrate for five hours on Monday. This was welcomed as a fast-paced judicial investigation. Fillon’s team is looking at who leaked this information, which they call a "stink bomb", to the investigative journal.
The evidence will take time, but the doubt about Fillon is planted. And with only months to go until the first round of the presidential elections, the question is whether the party can afford to have doubts cast over its candidate. Nobody wants to be linked to any Plan B talk right now, and every camp suspects the others of dropping their support for Fillon. But Republicans and their advisers are asking behind close doors whether they should drop Fillon to save the party's chances. Should they ask Fillon to resign and, if so, when? Should they wait for him to decide? Maybe the worst can still be avoided. After all, the volatile results from the primaries suggest that Fillon can be undone without greater harm. Or not? What is clear from these considerations It is clear that Fillon’s candidacy is hanging on a thread, writes Cécile Cornudet.