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ELECTION

Fillon ridiculed for saying he can’t save money (despite being on €13,000 a month)

French presidential candidate François Fillon was lambasted on Monday after claiming he wasn’t good at saving money. French news sites and social media users were quick to point out his healthy salary.

Fillon ridiculed for saying he can’t save money (despite being on €13,000 a month)
Photo: AFP

Fillon opened himself up for more yet more stinging criticism on Monday when he told BFM TV interviewer Jean-Jacques Bourdin that he struggled to put money aside.

Fillon, whose campaign has wobbled over allegations of fake jobs and free deluxe suits, was immediately blasted and mocked on social media and became the top story on French news sites.

His words immediately trended on Twitter where some pointed out that if he couldn’t sort out his own money then he shouldn’t be put in charge of the country’s.

Others were simply angered and accused him of being “disconnected from reality”.

“Shameful. When you know that most people in France are deprived of healthcare, food and leisure,” said one angry Tweeter.

While Fillon’s words may not have been the worst thing a politician has ever said the problem for the candidate is that his wealth is there for all to see, as most French newspapers were quick to point out.

As an MP in Paris he earns €7,200 a month and also has access to an extra €5,770 (tax free) to cover his costs.

On top of that Fillon opened his own consultancy company in 2012 called 2F Conseil which according to Le Monde newspaper pulled in €750,000 in three years.

In the declaration of his assets to the High Authority for the Transparency of Public Life Fillon was shown to have several bank accounts and life insurance policies worth around €100,000, according to Le Parisien.

READ ALSO: Take a closer look at François Fillon's manor in rural France

Take a closer look at François Fillon's manor in rural France

And those outraged by his words on Monday were quick to point out that the candidate lives in a chateau, which along with his other properties, are believed to be worth €750,000.

That’s not to mention the hundreds of thousands of euros his wife earned as a parliamentary assistant over the years.

According to France’s Observation of Inegalities Fillon’s monthly salary is better than 96 percent of all French workers.

Fillon’s words might not have caused such an uproar if it wasn’t for the fact that his plans to turn around France’s struggling economy are based on imposing harsh austerity.

Fillon wants to save €100 billion over five years as well as raise the retirement age, hike the legal working week from 35 to 39 hours and ditch 500,000 public service posts.

The candidate has suffered in the polls in recent weeks and trails behind Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, but he still believes he can overcome the odds and make the second round run-off vote.

Despite his troubles he still enjoys strong support among his base, who like Fillon, believe he is the victim of a media witch-hunt and a politically-motivated smear campaign.

They believe he has the best programme to turn France around.

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ELECTION

Le Pen narrowly tops European election polls in France in blow for Macron

The far-right National Rally party led by Marine Le Pen finished top in European elections in France on Sunday, dealing a blow to pro-European President Emmanuel Macron.

Le Pen narrowly tops European election polls in France in blow for Macron
Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella. Photo: AFP

Results released on Monday morning by the Ministry of the Interior, which have yet to be formally verified and declared by the National Voting Commission, showed that the far right Rassemblement National (RN) party topped the polls with 23.3 percent of the vote, beating French president Emmanuel Macron's La Republique En Marche.

They were closely followed by Macron's party, which polled 22.4 percent.

Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron at a polling station in Le Touquet earlier on Sunday. Photo: AFP

The allocation of seats in the European Parliament has been complicated for France by the UK's delayed departure from the EU.

The Parliament had already decided that after Brexit, some of the seats that had been occupied by British MEPs would be reallocated to other countries, with France set to gain an extra five seats

However, last minute delays to Brexit meant that the UK had to take part in the elections, with the result that France will not gain its extra seats until Britain leaves the EU.

On last night's polling results, the RN will get 22 seats in the European parliament immediately, and an extra seat once Britain leaves.

Macron's LREM will get 21 seats now and 23 after the UK leaves.

The green party lead by Yannick Jadot was placed third with 13.4 percent of the vote, gaining 12 seats now and 13 after Brexit. 

The two parties that between them had dominated French politics for decades until the rise of Macron both polled in single figures. Nicolas Sarkozy's old party Les Republicains polled 8.4 percent, while the Socialist party of Francois Hollande was on 6.31 percent, winning them eight and six seats respectively.

Meanwhile the 'yellow vest' candidates scored just 0.54 percent of the vote, below the Animalist party which polled 2.17 percent.

Nathalie Loiseau with LREM party workers. Photo: AFP

Although a total of 34 parties fielded candidates in the European elections in France, the election had largely been framed as a contest between Macron and Le Pen.

Macron's La Republique En Marche party, its list headed by former Europe Minister Nathalie Loiseau, was contesting its first European elections.

Marine Le Pen, on the other hand, was hoping to replicate her 2014 European election victory with her Rassemblement National party, its list headed by a political novice, the 23-year-old Jordan Bardella. Bardella called the results a “failure” for the LREM ruling party and sought to portray Macron's defeat as a rejection by voters of his pro-business agenda in France and pro-EU vision.

Macron had made no secret of the significance he attached to the results, telling regional French newspapers last week that the EU elections were the most important for four decades as the union faced an “existential threat”.

Jordan Bardella, head of the RN list. Photo: AFP

He has jumped into the campaign himself in recent weeks, appearing alone on an election poster in a move that analysts saw as exposing him personally if LREM underperformed.

The score of the National Rally is slightly below the level of 2014 when it won 24.9 percent, again finishing top.

Le Pen had placed herself towards the bottom of the RN list, so she will be returning to the European Parliament, where she served as an MEP from 2004 to 2017.

Turnout at the polls in France was the highest in recent years, with 50.12 percent of people voting, significantly up from 35.07 percent in 2014.

Veteran France reporter John Lichfield said: “After six months of 'yellow vest' rebellion, that Macron list has 22 percent is respectable. Much better than President Hollande did in 2014 (14.5 percent).

“But he made the election all about himself and lost. His hopes of emerging as de facto EU leader or enacting more French reforms are damaged.”

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