France nearing ‘civil war’: Fillon
Francois Fillon is concerned about the level of violence during the election campaign. Source: Flickr
French conservative presidential hopeful Francois Fillon has said the country is seeing “a climate near civil war” and the Socialist government is doing nothing to protect democratic processes.
Violence in the western city of Nantes at the weekend during a rally against the Front National’s leader, Marine Le Pen, and attacks on buses carrying her supporters were “unacceptable”, Fillon said.
He said the authorities were “failing to create the conditions for the peaceful exercise of democracy”, adding that there was “a climate of near civil war to develop in the country”.
Seven police officers were injured on Saturday in Nantes, including one with serious burns, after rocks and firebombs were thrown during the anti-Le Pen protest.
Fillon said far-left activists were disrupting his own campaign events “every day”.
Meanwhile, the French economy is looking buoyant. France’s bond yields have spiked and its stocks have fallen behind the rest of the eurozone, as investors run scared of political risk but the country’s economic prospects are looking up.
France’s business and consumer confidence and job creation are rising, while earnings expectations for big French firms are also improving.
Hiring is at a 10-year high and the sluggish economy is finally strengthening.
“When markets apply a blanket negative response to an issue like France, we can come in and benefit our shareholders,” said Steve Caruthers from Los Angeles with Capital Group Companies, which manages assets of US$1.4 trillion.
“We have lots of companies within France that we have high conviction in today. They offer attractive valuations, certainly, compared to a lot of their US competitors.”
Both Fillon and Le Pen claim that outgoing Socialist President Francois Hollande is trying to influence the election through the judiciary by using the judiciary to investigate them for alleged financial impropriety.
Former prime minister Fillon has described an inquiry launched into whether he fraudulently employed his wife Penelope in January as an “institutional coup d’etat” and has accused journalists of trying to carry out a “lynching” and an “assassination”.
Fillon, 62, faces allegations he paid his wife for 15 years as a fake assistant and one of Le Pen’s staff was charged last week over allegations the party defrauded the European Parliament.
Both deny the allegations and questioned the independence of the judiciary ahead of the presidential election on April 23 and May 7.