Pécresse appeals for help to cover cost of failed French presidential campaign

The candidate of France's traditional centre-right party has launched an emergency fundraising appeal after she failed to score above 5 percent in the first round of polling - meaning that campaign expenses will not be reimbursed.

French right-wing Les Republicains (LR) Ile-de-France Regional Council President and presidential candidate Valerie Pecresse leaves the stage after her speech after projected results were announced in the first round of the French presidential election in Paris on April 10, 2022
(Photo: Alain Jocard / AFP)

Valérie Pécresse has launched a public appeal to cover the cost of her French Presidential campaign, after she failed to win enough votes to qualify for full State funding for Les Républicains – the party of former French presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac.

Under French election rules, any candidate who wins five percent of the vote is entitled to be reimbursed up to 47.5 percent of their campaign costs – amounting to a maximum of €8 million – once campaign accounts are validated by the Conseil Constitutionnel.

For those candidates who poll under five percent of the total vote, the reimbursement is limited to 4.75 percent of the €16.85 m ceiling for authorised expenses for first-round candidates – or a little over €800,000.

Only four of the 12 first-round candidates – Emmanuel Macron, Marine Le Pen, Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Eric Zemmour – polled enough votes to receive the higher rate of reimbursement.

The overall ceiling for candidates who reach the second round rises to €22.51 million.

Le Républicains candidate Pécresse’s disastrous campaign ended after the first round with her polling just 4.8 percent of the total votes – which will trigger the lower 4.75 percent reimbursement, prompting her to issue a plea to the French people for “emergency help to complete the financing of her presidential campaign”. 

She said that her personal debt following the campaign is “up to €5 million”.

“This morning I am launching a national appeal for donations, to all those who have given me their vote, but also to all French people who are attached to political pluralism and freedom of expression,” she said.

“The financial situation of my campaign is now critical.”

According to Capital, Pécresse’s rally at the Zenith in February would have cost the party nearly €500,000 – more than half the sum the campaign will get back from the State.

“I need your emergency help, by May 15th, to complete the financing of this presidential campaign,” Pécresse said, adding that the survival of Les Républicains depended on these donations.

Les Reoublicains was for many years one of the two ‘mainstream’ parties and numbers former presidents including Sarkozy, Chirac and De Gaulle.

The party saw its vote collapse in 2017 after its candidate, François Fillon, was exposed in a ‘fake jobs’ scandal and Emmanuel Macron swept to power.

Five years on, although the party remains a power at a local level, it has not recovered on a national level and Pécresse came fifth in the first round of voting, after Macron, Le Pen, hard-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon and extreme-right Eric Zemmour.

Parti Socialiste, the other traditional party of government in France, fared even worse, with its candidate Anne Hidalgo scoring less than two percent.

Green candidate Yannick Jadot also issued an appeal for financial help hours after results showed that his campaign failed to hit the 5 percent threshold.   

A simple Twitter message: “Tonight we need you” called for donations to help repay a campaign loan that amounts to €8.5 million, according to BFMTV.

 “If everyone who voted for Yannick Jadot gives 3€, we will have reimbursed the campaign and will be able to continue the fight for ecology,” the party’s national secretary Julien Bayou said.


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France proposes getting rid of penalties for ‘minor’ speeding offences

The French government is considering changing speeding laws so that drivers will not lose points on their licence if they are caught going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

France proposes getting rid of penalties for 'minor' speeding offences

France’s Interior Ministry is considering changing its current rules for minor speeding violations – proposing getting rid of the penalty for drivers who only violate the rule by going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

The Ministry has not laid out a timeline for when this could come into effect, but they said they are currently in the preliminary stages of studying how the change could be carried out.

“The fine of course remains,” said the Interior Ministry to French daily Le Parisien.

That is to say you can still be fined for going five kilometres over the speed limit, but there might not be any more lost points for driving a couple kilometres over the posted limit. 

READ ALSO These are the offences that can cost you points on your driving licence

Of the 13 million speeding tickets issued each year in France, 58 percent are for speeding violations of less than 5 km per hour over the limit, with many coming from automated radar machines.

How does the current rule work?

The rule itself is already a bit flexible, depending on where the speeding violation occurs.

If the violation happens in an urban area or low-speed zone (under 50 km per hour limit), then it is considered a 4th class offence, which involves a fixed fine of €135. Drivers can also lose a point on their licences as a penalty for this offence. 

Whereas, on highways and high-speed roads, the consequences of speeding by 5 km per hour are less severe. The offence is only considered 3rd class, which means the fixed fine is €68. There is still the possibility of losing a point on your licence, however. 

How do people feel about this?

Pierre Chasseray, a representative from the organisation “40 Millions d’Automobilistes,” thinks the government should do away with all penalties for minor speeding offences, including fines. He told French daily Le Parisien that this is only a “first step.”

Meanwhile, others are concerned that the move to get rid of points-deductions could end up encouraging people to speed, as they’ll think there is no longer any consequence.

To avoid being accused of carelessness, France’s Interior Ministry is also promising to become “firmer” with regards to people who use other people’s licences in order to get out of losing points – say by sending their spouse’s or grandmother’s instead of their own after being caught speeding. The Interior Ministry plans to digitalise license and registration in an effort to combat this. 

Ultimately, if you are worried about running out of points on your licence, there are still ways to recover them.

You can recover your points after six months of driving without committing any other offences, and there are also awareness training courses that allow you to gain your points back. It should be noted, however, that these trainings typically cost between €150 and €250, and they do not allow you to regain more than four points.