The story of François Fillon’s suits tells you why the French establishment may be facing the guillotine

Assuming you are a conservative minded Catholic would you vote for this man as your natural champion?

With only a week before the first round of voting, the revelation by the investigative website Mediapart will further embarrass the conservative candidate, who lost his place as frontrunner in opinion polls after being placed under investigation for allegedly giving his British wife a “fake” job as his parliamentary assistant.

Mr Fillon received three suits costing €13,000 from Robert Bourgi, a Franco-Lebanese lawyer, in what he admitted last month was an “error of judgement” — although he denied any wrongdoing.

After the existence of the gifts was revealed last month, Mr Fillon, became the subject of a further investigation into suspected “influence peddling”.

He claimed he had returned the suits, made to measure by the chic Paris tailor Arnys.

However, investigators now suspect two suits he ‘gave back’ to Mr Bourgi were not the ones he had received, Mediapart reported.

“They did not appear to be Arnys suits,” Eric Moutet, a lawyer acting for Mr Bourgi, told the website. “In the pocket of one, there was a ‘Made in Holland’ label.”

There is an echo here of 1789 and the early years of the French Revolution  when wigs ,periwigs and elaborate silks were  torn up in favour of liberty caps, sans culottes and fabrics  that exposed the female body.

The candidate of the last minute surge is Jean-Luc Mélenchon, ex-Trot, ex- Socialist minister, a man who preaches revolution in a democratic context whatever that means exactly.  As a trendy moderniser he projects himself to rallies by hologram. What is more fascinating  to me  is his selection of Mao jackets with a touch of French chic about the cut.

That tells you as much about him as the saga of suits reveals about Fillon.


  • ted hagan

    Yea, Melenchon blossomed like this last time round then wilted when put to the election test. I predict the same again. What amazes me is Fillon’s comeback.

  • the rich get richer

    Would you buy a second hand car from that man………

    If you did you’d want to take it with you straight away or their might be something different under the Hood at a later collection time…..

    Not really a Servant of the people type , I would suggest .

  • Katyusha

    The more terrifying item to note is that if the Republicans had picked a better candidate they might have won. Might as well discredit the right wing of the establishment as the left wing of the establishment. Still, they have a teflon quality, much like Fianna Fáil.

  • Gavin Smithson

    Republicans seem to be the same the world over and not just in Ulster. Untrustworthy and negarious. I hope Marine wins and gives France her dignity and quintessential Frenchness back.

  • aquifer

    Maybe the elderly prefer the familiar. Crooked conservative politicians who can at least count money.

  • Old Mortality

    The real story of this election is Emmanuel Macron’s ascent from a standing start and, as a former member of the current socialist government, without the allure of ‘an outsider’ to woo the malcontents.
    As a matter of interest, how many of the candidates do you think our oh so Europhile party leaders could name off the top of their heads?

  • ted hagan

    Trustworthiness is not something I would associate with Marine. Le Pen. She’s adopted so many stances in her quest for absolute power that she’s hard to keep up with. How long has she been at this gig for? As for ‘dignity’ and ‘Le Pen’. They are polar opposites.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    And it’s Macron & Marine off to 2nd round with Macron most likely to win the Elysée – so a centrist, technocrat, former banker and loosely establishment figure doesn’t represent a revolution. Poor old Benoît Hamon has reduced Parti Socialiste to about 6% of the vote – Fillon has presided over a less dramatic downturn in Les Republicains’ votes – a revolution of a kind but only within those parties.
    I wouldn’t say that Mélenchon is that revolutionary though and he’s certainly not a progressive. He wants a return to something familiar: almost stale. BTW are Mélenchon’s jackets Maoist? I thought they were les vestes d’instit – teachers’ jackets.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Listen kid, Marine Le Pen is, was and always will be just as Republican as all the other presidential candidates. But in your imagination she’s not. So what is she? A monarchist? A royalist? Who’s her candidate for French king? Would you like to tell us?

    Just out of academic curiosity, what’s your view of the US Republican Party?
    I’m really looking forward to your well thought through response.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Fillon’s rebound is largely due to bourgeois conservative catholics having had no-one else to back.

  • SleepyD

    You could be waiting a while….Macron seems to already be being crowned ahead of the final dance. Comparisons being drawn with Bonaparte.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    And your point is?

  • SleepyD

    My point is that Macron is already being given the prize ahead of the run which is premature. Clear enough?

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Isn’t it clear enough that the media always want to make a story based on speculation? Isn’t it clear that the media historically tend to crystal gaze? Isn’t it clear that Macron is the likelier candidate to win in 2nd ballot? Isn’t it clear that likely doesn’t mean certain? Isn’t it clear that none of us can predict the future?

  • SleepyD

    Watch your blood pressure Ben.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Watch your brain power. My blood pressure is lower than 90/60mmHg.

  • SleepyD

    A mile of your ego then smartarse.