Friday, 7 December 2012

France and its political shenanigans 'à la république bananière'

François Fillon (L) and Jean-François Copé (R)
Call me a glutton for punishment if you will, but unlike the quasi-totality of people in France I am still fascinated by the ongoing political saga involving Fillon and Copé and their dispute over the UMP party presidential election which was won by Copé. Just to quickly bring you up to date with the essentials (I wrote a more detailed piece here) Fillon immediately declared that he wanted another election quickly because, he said, Copé had cheated because the Copé-controlled election commission charged with counting the votes forgot to include about 1000 votes from three god-forsaken island colonies somewhere which would have made him, Fillon, the winner, Copé refused to hold another election, so Fillon threatened to take the issue to the courts and the UMP then splintered into two parliamentary factions. The UMP had thus deliberately weakened their political clout as an opposition party, which was sacrificed on the pious altar of a personal spat.

Those events took us up to last week and Copé has been clinging on to power ever since, much to the disgust of the vast majority of UMP supporters and that of the population as a whole. The belligerants have been meeting regularly behind closed doors over the last few days. Nothing or nearly is filtering out and there are no flies on the wall. No progress has been made. Still, the growing rumour of the moment says that they are planning a sneaky deal which will suit them both but will not suit the party. In order words, we seem to be heading towards a cosy arrangement between two conniving cheats.

Today brings a bombshell however, and it may yet upset their dastardly plans. It transpires that the president of the election commission, Patrice Gélard, is pisse... not a happy bunny.

He has come clean to say that he doesn't understand why his staff didn't send him the vote tallies from the three overseas departments, and reminds us that the staff who compiled the figures were Copé supporters. He says he asked for these results twice and was fobbed off with a "no problem, because they are contained in the global figures for overseas territories." But they weren't....

The person who gave him that erroneous information also turned out to be a Copé supporter.

So the question now being asked is 'was this an innocent error during the vote-counting? Or was it a deliberate act of fraud? If so, it would be obvious to all that Copé and his merry band of mendacious minions were behind it.

Even more suspicious, he says, is the 'flash message' email sent in all urgency to party leaders just two days before the election. It decreed that the rules of the election were being changed and that checks to ensure that all voting party members were up to date on their party subscription fees and could thus vote were being scrapped for technical reasons. It is being said that this move suited Copé.

The problem with that message though is that it had Gélard's signature at the bottom, and Gélard says that he did not sign it. He says "I don't know anything about [the message]. That email has nothing to do with me. No, I didn't sign anything at all [on the day it was sent] because I wasn't in Paris, I was at Le Havre.

So who forged his signature? Nobody knows.

I mean, you couldn't make it up could you. This laughable excuse for a democratic political party is making a mockery not only of itself, but of French politics in general. The Socialists are just as undemocratic as these two UMP clowns in their internal dealings vis-à-vis their rank and file members, who are also ignored, and all this explains why, year after year, France is ranked very low indeed in international and OECD studies which assess the democratic quotient of political life in OECD countries.

My personal take on all this is that although France's democratic practices sometimes have more in common with banana republics in other parts of the world than they do with other, highly-developed, countries, this is just the way things work in France and always have done. Political corruption is relatively rife here but oh well, the country still muddles through one way or another.

Besides, I do love a good old soap story from time to time.....

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