François Fillon v. The Media

If the breath of life could be cornered, it would go the way of the other commons: clinging to the hands of private interests. Media oligarchs have made similar attempts to privatise public opinion. Why exercise the faculties of thought and judgement when the makers of ersatz opinion are there with a ready product? The ❛Party of the Media❜ is relentless in its attempt to seize the democratic commons of public debate, then sell it back to voters in the form of a cut lunch. So it was, before Brexit, before Donald Trump, and now before the trouncing of the media favourite, Alain Juppé, in the first round of the French primary to select a presidential candidate for the Right and the Centre. On all three occasions, the media’s instructions were ignored and the pollsters cuckolded. It must by now be obvious that it is a citizen’s democratic duty to lie convincingly to pollsters, and if possible to put them out of business, because their only function in elections is to pervert the expression of the public will.

Maxime Tandonnet, a former advisor to Nicolas Sarkozy, comments on M. Fillon’s ❛surprise❜ success in Le Figaro.

It’s interesting that FIGAROVOX introduces François Fillon as le Sarthois, a reference to his origins in the department of the Sarthe in north-west France. We are unlikely to see a gauchiste newspaper evoke domesticity in this way, as the Left regards such notions of home and origin as somehow subversive. And with good reason: they are conservative and discriminatory concepts, with no place in Utopia.

François Fillon: A Victory Over Political Showbiz and Political Correctness

First published in French 21st November 2016, in Le Figaro

FIGAROVOX/TRIBUNE : With more than 44% of votes cast in the first round of the primary, François Fillon has trounced his opponents. For Maxime Tandonnet, the Sarthois has, with his Gaullist stance, pulled off a coup without equal in the recent history of the Right.

François Fillon’s tremendous victory in the first round of the primary for the Right and Centre, in the context of an historically high participation rate, is a political earthquake comparable with those that have shaken democratic politics in the West for some years: the French and Dutch ❛no❜ in referenda on the European Constitution in May 2005; the vote for Brexit last June; the victory of Donald Trump in the United States. What’s been going on? Two weeks beforehand, nobody imagined such a scenario, with all the polls placing Fillon far behind the leading duo, Juppé and Sarkozy. In fifteen days, the former prime minister of 2007-12 advanced 30 points. Can you find such a huge and spectacular upset anywhere in the history of French democracy?

It would be an error to see in this a sudden awareness of M. Fillon’s program on the part of the French, since it has been known for a year. No, it’s something else, a phenomenon that comes under the heading of collective psychology. As in the United States and Great Britain, what has come about is a mood of revolt in the electorate. The French have rebelled against the diktat of the media and the pollsters, who were determined to sell them a package: that of the victory of Alain Juppé, candidate of accommodation, over Nicolas Sarkozy, the man who polarizes. The people wanted to duck this bludgeoning by decisively choosing a third option. Even the notion of primaries of the Right and Centre has been hijacked. The French, probably of different political sensibilities, have used the occasion to express their fury. This result is above all one of popular uprising against the political and media elites, the nation’s answer to the feeling that a media-infused caste wants to impose its own way of seeing, thinking, and voting. […]

They repudiate the cult of personality, the president who talks too much and not wisely, and who camouflages his failures and impotence with blather and posturing.

This is a big event. By giving M. Fillon a large majority, the French are on their way to burying the notion of the ❛hyper-presidency❜. They reject the image of presidential narcissism, of heads of state who, for about fifteen years, adopted the gait of political power exclusive and incarnate, omnipresent in the media, supreme spokesmen for the Republic. They repudiate the cult of personality, the president who talks too much and not wisely, and who camouflages his failures and impotence with blather and posturing.

The personality of François Fillon is the key to an understanding of the political earthquake that is now taking place. His character projects an image of simplicity, of discretion, not to say of a quiet temperament, little given to swagger. This is the source of the considerable impact of the three televised debates, which contributed to his rising power. After the years of arm-waving and boasting, the French have demonstrated their thirst for Elysian calm, for serious collective work in steering French politics. Against the habit of impotent prattling, they have expressed their hope for effective action. Against showbiz politics, they have made the choice of the sort of sobriety and modest authority that Fillon has known how to project. Some years after the scandals surrounding DSK [Dominique Strauss-Kahn] and [Jérôme] Cahuzac, this dizzying upset in favour of the former prime minister, who has never been before the courts, evinces a will to cleanse public life.

French voters in the primary have been convinced by his repeated expressions of commitment to the Christians of the Orient, victims of genocide.

In this tragic time for the country, bloodied by terrorism, devastated by six million unemployed, the exponential rise of communitarianism, industrial decline, a wracked international situation, François Fillon has found a style in the Gaullist line of descent, words that reassure and inspire confidence. He speaks without dissimulation in support of dialogue with Moscow, and of the absolute priority of the struggle against Daech in the Middle East. On these points, he radically differentiates himself from the ❛politically correct❜ ideology of the greater part of his adversaries.

But above all, French voters in the primary have been convinced by his repeated expressions of commitment to the Christians of the Orient, victims of genocide. With these sentiments, he has known how to touch the heart of France, its values, and one of the traditions most deeply anchored in its history. While avoiding issues of identity and the danger of exacerbating the fault-lines in French society, his repeated and insistent appeals on behalf of persecuted Christian minorities everywhere has probably had the effect of mobilizing the Christian electorate of France in his favour. And that, nobody saw coming… §