"François Fillon’s failure to resign on Wednesday makes a Le Pen win in the 2017 presidential elections more likely.
"The candidate for the centre-right Les Républicains party, embroiled in a series of allegations over corruption and the creation of fake jobs for his wife and two of his children, has seen a number of his campaign team resign overnight. Fillon’s disastrous press conference on Wednesday, in which he denounced an ‘assassination’ by the media and by the judiciary and recorded that he was formally considered for investigation into corruption charges, left many in his party bemused and angered.
"Fillon’s failure to resign plays into the hands of both the centrist Emmanuel Macron and the extreme-right candidate Marine Le Pen. Macron releases his manifesto this morning, which is likely to focus heavily on job creation and ways of increasing work opportunities for graduates and young people. It is likely that centrist Fillon supporters will now shift to the more charismatic, and seemingly more statesmanlike Macron, while Fillon’s hardcore support of Catholic and conservative nationalists may well lose faith in their man and choose to back Le Pen."
"If Fillon continues to fight on, in the face of opposition from within his own party and with the likelihood of further charges to come, the centre-right could essentially be wiped out in the presidential elections, and indeed quite possibly in the elections for the French parliament in June.
"Right-wing voters who backed Fillon last year will have little option but to view Le Pen as the only remaining truly right-wing candidate, despite Le Pen herself facing the prospect of investigation overt the misuse of European money. This is unlikely to phase Le Pen and in many ways will enable both her and the Front National to point to the European Union as an unwieldly and useless political body.
"Voters across France are now faced with the stark choice of the centrist largely ‘status quo’ policies of Macron or the possibility of change with Le Pen. All François Fillon has succeeded in doing is to make the Macron-Le Pen run-off all the more likely—and to increase Le Pen’s chances of getting the keys to the Elysée Palace."
Dr David Lees, Teaching Fellow in French Studies
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