The more you study politics, the more you come to realize that it’s not all that different anywhere in the world. There’s some odd media spin showing up in France this week having to do with an “investigation” into Marine Le Pen’s alleged use of EU funds (she’s a member of the European Union legislature) and whether or not she “mixed” them with campaign money to pay party staffers. Fair enough, I suppose. Every country has rules about campaign finance matters. But it’s the timing of this particular investigation which should catch our attention. If they go through with this plan the hearing will be rushed into place right before the May 7th runoff election, which most observers expect Le Pen to be in. (Reuters)
European Union lawmakers could summon French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen to discuss the lifting of her immunity over the alleged misuse of European Union money, before the second round of the French election, an influential legislator said on Saturday.
French judges have asked the European parliament to lift the immunity of the National Front leader, who is a member of the EU legislature, to permit further investigations over alleged misuse of funds to pay for party assistants.
“The legal affairs committee has agreed that Le Pen will be summoned for a hearing on the first possible date in May,” Laura Ferrara, the deputy chair of the committee, told Reuters.
She said the hearing could take place in the first week of May, before the May 7 runoff in the French election, which polls show Le Pen is likely to reach.
Le Pen has denounced legal proceedings against her as political interference.
I’m not trying to say that the fix is definitively in on this one, but the timing of all of this certainly seems to be awfully convenient for the French governing establishment class and the European Union in general. First of all, this investigation has been going on for a while now. In fact, the EU already found some sort of financial rules indiscretion and wound up docking some of Le Pen’s pay from the parliament. If they’ve determined that there is more work to do then so be it, but they’re choosing to make the announcement eight days before the first round of elections and are planning to schedule the hearing only a week before the runoff? I don’t want to say that they’re being a bit obvious here, but… come on, man.
Whether you happen to approve of or dislike Le Pen’s policies and the gate crashing attitude of the National Front, there’s no question that she poses an existential threat to the French political establishment and the European Union in general. She’s veering sharply away from the more passive socialism of the second half of the twentieth century and she has frequently spoken about holding a referendum to see if her fellow citizens have any interest in a Frexit. Her hard line on Islamic extremism and the corrupting influence of some immigrant communities flies in the face of her country’s established policy of c’est la vie and the “religion of peace.” In short, she’s the type who may be inclined to upset the apple cart in a nation (and international union) which makes a pretty good living off apple sales.
Now, holding on to a steady enough lead in the polls to likely make it to the runoff and facing competitors who are bogged down in scandals, there’s a scandal investigation seemingly timed in two stages for maximum negative impact on her campaign. Coincidence? The default rules have to allow for it, but you rarely see a coincidence this productive in the political universe.