Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Donors pledge millions at Uganda refugee summit

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Depp plumbs depths of bad taste

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

France's new frontman, America's absent center, May's Brexit gambit, Saudi royal reshuffle, after Mosul & Raqqa fall

Read more

REVISITED

Senegal’s Casamance hopes for new era of peace

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

FARC disarmament a 'historic day' for Colombia, says president

Read more

FASHION

Cruise collections: All aboard for Dior and Chanel's latest fashions

Read more

ENCORE!

Colombia comes to France

Read more

#THE 51%

The last taboo: Helping women and girls. Period.

Read more

DOWN TO EARTH

Who benefits when the ice caps melt?

Read more

France

Fillon faces more defections day after police raid home

© Pascal Guyot, AFP | French conservative candidate François Fillon speaks during a presidential campaign rally in Nîmes, France on March 2, 2017

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-03-03

The chief spokesman for French conservative presidential candidate François Fillon stepped down on Friday, a day after police raided Fillon’s home as part of an investigation into fake jobs.

Thierry Solère is one of the most high-profile defections from the Fillon campaign, which has been haemorrhaging support after Fillon revealed Wednesday that he will be placed under formal investigation later this month over allegations that he had his wife and children paid hundreds of thousands of euros for fake parliamentary jobs.

Fillon has vowed to continue in his bid for the presidency despite his looming legal troubles.

His campaign confirmed that police raided his home in central Paris on Thursday as he visited winegrowers on the campaign trial in southern France. His parliamentary office was searched last month.

Campaign treasurer Gilles Boyer, deputy campaign director Sebastien Lecornu and adviser Vincent Le Roux resigned from their posts on Thursday, along with a number of more junior campaign staffers.

Three other high-ranking lawmakers from the centrist wing of the party – Benoist Apparu, Christophe Bechu and Edouard Philippe – also quit the Fillon cause, saying their decision was prompted by his repeated attacks on the judiciary.

Sinking ship

Dominique de Villepin, a fellow former prime minister from Fillon’s Les Républicains (formerly UMP) party, has accused the candidate of driving the conservative party "into the abyss".

"Going down this dead-end street is taking the state, our faith in democracy and its fellow travellers hostage," Villepin wrote in Le Figaro newspaper on Thursday.

Fillon has called the charges over the fake jobs scandal "entirely calculated to stop me being a candidate for the presidential election" and has ruled out stepping aside.

"The French people back me," Fillon told journalists confidently on Thursday. "The base is holding."

But several defectors from Fillon’s team and other senior Les Républicains have called for ex-premier Alain Juppé, 71, to throw his hat into the ring, underscoring divisions within his camp.

Fillon and the anti-gay marriage vote

New polls published Thursday suggested Fillon was in third place and would win 19-20 percent in the first round of the election scheduled for April 23, behind centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Nevertheless, thousands turned out for his rally in the town of Nimes on Thursday evening and Fillon's calculation appears to be that he can close the small gap with his rivals in the remaining two months.

The top two from the first round proceed to a run-off on May 7, which polls currently show Macron as likely to win.

But analysts warn against making any firm predictions in what has become a rollercoaster campaign.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2017-03-03

  • FRANCE

    France's Macron vows to end nepotism as scandal engulfs rival Fillon

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Rivals blast defiant Fillon as allies pull support

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Fillon stays in presidential race despite facing charges over 'fake jobs'

    Read more

COMMENT(S)