Fillon Apologizes For Employing His Family, Vows To Keep Campaigning With Renewed Energy
With some speculating that French presidential candidate Francois Fillon, mired in a growing political scandal involving public payments made to his wife and children for a “fake job”, would announce a resignation at a 4pm conference, moments ago the former frontrunner for the French presidency defended himself as Reuters suggested, and stated that he has “nothing to hide”, that his wife’s salary was “perfectly justified” and that he has been the subject of unprecedented political attacks.
He also said that “everything about him is legal and transparent” and that he would disclose his assets, including his real estate, and bank accounts. While he did acknowledge the “morality” angle of his case, he called for overall reform of the parliamentary aide system. Curiously, he also added that his wife “never worked for any Russian entity.”
“I understand the need for me to clarify things and I will do it because I have nothing to hide,” Fillon said at a press conference in Paris. “Yes I employed my spouse. She was in the job for 15 years.”
The practice was legal, though he acknowledged that it is no longer seen as acceptable and he apologized to voters.
He did not miss the opportunity to take a dig at his main opponent, Marine Le Pen, and said that the “real danger in France is the extreme right.”
He then vowed to keep campaigning with renewed energy.
The Republican nominee’s recovery plan comes in the face of falling in support in the polls since the a Jan. 24 report saying that his wife had worked as his parliamentary assistant for many years while showing little to no presence in parliament. Prosecutors opened a preliminary probe into the matter and extended the investigation into his children who also worked in similar jobs.
Polls by Ifop and Elabe show Fillon has slipped into third place in the election behind National Front leader Marine Le Pen and independent candidate Emmanuel Macron. Surveys also show that Macron would go on to defeat Le Pen in the May 7 run-off vote.
Le Pen currently has the support of 25 percent of voters, compared with 20.5 percent for Macron and 18.5 percent for Fillon, according to the latest Ifop rolling poll.
While the public’s immediate response to Fillon’s speech appears to be agreeable, with Fillon’s odds of becoming next president with online bookies rising from 6/1 to 4/1 after the speech…
Francois Fillon speech goes down well with political punters,who back him from 6/1 to 4/1 to be French President. 6/5 Macron; 5/2 Le Pen.
— William Hill (@sharpeangle) February 6, 2017
… but the market’s kneejerk reaction is less favorable, with French bonds extending losses, as the 10Y yield climbs 6bps to 1.14%.