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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UK police arrest man over 2021 deaths of 27 people in Channel tragedy

UK police on Tuesday arrested a man suspected of playing a "key role" in the deaths of at least 27 people who drowned attempting to cross the Channel in a dinghy last November.

UK police arrest man over 2021 deaths of 27 people in Channel tragedy

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said 32-year-old Harem Ahmed Abwbaker was arrested at an address near Cheltenham, southwest England.

He is suspected of being “a member of the organised crime group who conspired to transport the migrants to the UK in a small boat”.

NCA investigators are working with the French authorities to track down those responsible for the tragedy.

French prosecutors have so far charged 10 people for their alleged role in the disaster on November 24 last year.

It was the worst accident in the Channel since the narrow strait became a key route for people from Africa, the Middle East and Asia attempting to reach England from France.

The vessel sank after leaving the French coast, leading to the death of all but two of those aboard. Four people remain missing.

The suspect will appear before London’s Westminster Magistrates Court on Wednesday, where extradition proceedings to France will commence.

READ ALSO What is France doing to prevent small-boat crossings of the Channel?

Charges faced there include the French equivalent of manslaughter and facilitating illegal immigration.

“This is a significant arrest and comes as part of extensive inquiries into the events leading to these tragic deaths in the Channel,” said NCA deputy director Craig Turner.

“The individual detained today is suspected of having played a key role in the manslaughter of those who died.

“Working closely with our French partners we are determined to do all we can to get justice for the families of those whose lives were lost,” he added.

Among the 27 – aged seven to 47 – were 16 Iraqi Kurds, four Afghans, three Ethiopians, one Somali, one Egyptian and one Vietnamese.

Tributes and demonstrations took place on Thursday for the 27 victims of the tragedy that France’s interior minister admitted should have been prevented.

Several boats packed with rescuers and local elected figures took to sea off the coast of Dunkirk to mark the anniversary.

“It’s a tragedy that we were expecting and there will probably be others,” said the head of the local branch of the SNSM lifeboat service, Alain Ledaguenel.