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Election campaign in France sees majority siding with right-wing demands

The most important political demands of the two right-wing candidates in the French presidential election campaign, Marine Le Pen and Éric Zemmour, meet with the approval of a majority of French people. This is the result of a recent survey by the polling institute Ifop.

Published: March 31, 2022, 10:44 am

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    French people were asked to give their opinion on the presidential candidates’ proposals on, among other things, the fight against Islamism and radicalisation.

    According to the survey, 69 percent of French voters want a ban on the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols at sporting events, including most potential voters of Éric Zemmour (92 percent), Marine Le Pen (82 percent) or Valérie Pécresse (81 percent). However, the planned ban also meets with approval in the ranks of the left and the centre. But even almost a quarter of Muslims are also in favour of such a ban (24 percent).

    Some 57 percent of French people also want to ban the wearing of conspicuous religious clothing or signs on the streets and in public spaces.

    There is massive support for all the proposals voiced by the candidates to fight radical Islamism: 90 percent of respondents favour the expulsion of foreigners listed in anti-terrorist files (while only 73 percent of Muslims agreed); 87 percent are in favour of introducing the revocation of citizenship for any dual national found guilty of terrorist acts. Also, 87 percent of French people want to increase the presence of public services in the neighbourhoods most affected by radicalisation (72 percent).

    In the fight against Islamism, Éric Zemmour is currently considered the most credible candidate (30 percent) among those running for the highest office.

    However, both the fight against Islamism and other immigration issues are currently not really the focus of public debate. There is growing distrust in the president’s insistence on employing “experts” from a tax-evading American consulting firm. And about two weeks before the first round of elections, the role of the US in the Ukraine conflict is an all-dominant topic in France.

    Why are US consultants hired by the Macron administration?

    The McKinsey scandal which erupted around Emmanuel Macron, was revealed in number 502 of Faits & Documents. Profitable French industries such as Alstom have been gutted by foreign investors, sparking unemployment and impoverishment. The rising anger expressed by the Yellow Vests (which Macron has addressed through repression) and rising populism (which is addressed through media propaganda) may well boomerang on Macron.

    Traveling to Dijon, the French president reacted to the controversy that is mounting following the conclusions of the Senate commission of inquiry on the use of consulting firms. The head of state maintains that the majority of spending was related to cybersecurity, but his assertion was contradicted by the president of the commission of inquiry.

    In Dijon, Macron had to explain himself at length on the damning report of the Senate commission of inquiry on McKinsey’s involvement in state affairs to the tune of one at least a billion euros. The co-rapporteur of the commission, Éliane Assassi had noted that “whole sections of public policies were delegated to consultants, who however have no democratic legitimacy”. She added that it was a “deep intrusion of the private sector into the public sphere”.

    Even more embarrassing, is the suspicion of false testimony by a manager of a French subsidiary of McKinsey who had stated, under oath before the commission, that his firm had paid its taxes in France. However, the Senate investigation confirmed that the McKinsey firm had not paid corporate tax in France for at least 10 years.

    The President of the Republic immediately became didactic when confronted by reporters. “A lot of nonsense has been spouted in recent days. We talked about the billion. I invite you to look at the details. Three-quarters, even more, are recourse to IT service providers and companies to finance cyber and the evolution to new risks. The state sometimes needs to buy external skills,” he explained.

    But Arnaud Bazin, the LR president of the Senate inquiry committee, told “The head of state’s argument is fallacious. We must first remember that the billion euros that we have identified includes only part of the consultancy expenditure. This is a minimum estimate. We have only evaluated the expenditure of ministries and that of 44 State agencies. i.e. only 10 percent of the operators.”

    Director of military intelligence fired

    The Director of military intelligence, General Eric Vidaud, has meanwhile been fired because he had given a poor analysis of the “Russian threat” in Ukraine.

    Vidaud was appointed just seven months ago, but on Wednesday 30 March, a source quoted by Le Monde confirmed that the Directorate of Military Intelligence [direction du renseignement militaire (DRM)] had been in the firing line since the beginning of the Russian offensive.

    The DRM had been doing “military intelligence on operations, not on intent” suggesting that the Macron administration wanted to remove Vidaud because he had been too impartial and not anti-Russian enough.

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