What the papers say 3 March 2017

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The papers analyse the dwindling political fortunes of Republican party candidate Francois Fillon as he digs in for a fight to the finish despite judicial woes mounting from the suspected “Penelopegate” scandal.

Francois Fillon, The French Republican party’s candidate continues to dominate the news as his electoral prospects dwindled further over his expressed vow to stay the course.

This, despite suffering a string of defections from his campaign, the latest twist in the so-called “Penelopegate” scandal.

Amid mounting pressure on him to step down, several papers lead with Fillon’s suggestion that he “will have to do without them”.

This follows the decision by a string of key campaign officials close to former challengers Alain Juppé and Bruno Le Maire to announce their resignation from his campaign team.

According to Le Parisien, Fillon suffered another setback after the Paris home of the conservative presidential candidate was raided by investigators on Thursday as part of an investigation into an allegedly fake job given to his wife Penelope. Le Parisien’s front page splash is all about Alain Juppé.

The publication claims that despite ruling himself out as the second option, the Bordeaux mayor and runner-up in the Republican presidential primaries, is busy preparing to fill in for the Republicans, just in case Francois Fillon is forced to bow out of the race.

Le Monde assesses the ravages Fillon’s campaign has suffered in the wake of the chain of resignations expressing serious doubts about his ability to stay the course with centrist and conservative mayors on the verge of issuing a statement calling on him to step down.

Meanwhile, On The Move party leader Emmanuel Macron launched his political manifesto on Thursday and from the comments made by today’s national dailies, it was clearly well received. Emmanuel Macron is bent on importing the Scandinavian model to France, headlines Le Monde.

The Catholic daily La Croix commends the plan to moralize public life in France laid out by President Francois Hollande’s former economy minister.

Even right-wing Le Figaro expresses delight at the “grab whatever” project arguing that it is designed to please the greatest number of voters without offending anyone.

According to the conservative daily, the political manifesto will enable Macron to court voters disturbed by the leftist skidding of Socialist flag-bearer Benoit Hamon and conservatives and centrists feeling let down by Francois Fillon.

Le Figaro also expresses relief at what it calls a possible “Blairist” effect of the “Macronian” approach to economic reform and the social model he offers.

According to the paper, it could enable him to rally reformists from both sides of the political divide – the social-liberal new deal ex-Prime Minister Manuel Valls tried in vain to incarnate and the advanced liberalism introduced during President Valery Giscard d’Estaing’s rule, notably the experience in giving greater autonomy to the regions, social actors and the educational system.

For Libération, Macron’s political manifesto is clearly a planned purge of the Republican Right’s ideals, in which liberals will be charged with implementing the first part and Social democrats the second.

The left-leaning publication says it’s more a synthesis than a cocktail, just as if Macron’s schooling under President Francois Hollande enabled him to master the art of reconciling opposite ideologies, which never served the outgoing President.

According to Les Echos, the so-called “citizens manifesto will enable Emmanuel Macron to by-pass the usual totems of the conservatives and the left to remain unclassified politically speaking and to carry out projected vital reforms of the social security and welfare systems.

Right-wing l’Opinion upholds the view that the tone of Macron’s electoral manifesto clearly reflects his plan to rally voters more than to implement reforms.

Hence the paper’s conviction that his assumed dream is not to be perceived exclusively as a staunch foe of National Front leader Marine Le Pen.

According to l’Opinion, Emmanuel Macron and his campaign strategists have as their next objective to overtake the National Front candidate in the polls and to run the rest of the race from pole position, which in the paper’s point of view will provide the candidate with the momentum he needs to win the Elysée.