Marine le Pen facing new problems in French presidential campaign

Marine le Pen facing new problems in French presidential campaign

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is facing more troubles, with fresh revelations in an investigation into her European Parliament assistants and criticism from the UN human rights commissioner.

The parliament probe is one of several legal issues hanging over France's spring election, which is shaping up as a major test of growing nationalist sentiment across Europe.

Investigative website Mediapart published excerpts from a European Commission fraud office report that said Ms Le Pen admitted to irregularities in pay cheques for one assistant targeted in the European Parliament probe.

Ms Le Pen acknowledged she settled an accounting problem with the parliament, but insisted: "There was nothing fictitious, no fake jobs or anything like this."

French authorities are separately investigating the parliamentary assistants. The probes centre around suspicions that members of Ms Le Pen's National Front party tricked the European Parliament out of several hundred thousand euros by using legislative aides for the party's political activity while they were on the parliament's payroll.

She reiterated accusations that the investigation is biased because it is led by the European Commission, "and you can imagine that I am not well-regarded by the commission".

Marine le Pen facing new problems in French presidential campaign

Ms Le Pen has used her membership in the European Parliament as a forum to lobby against European unity and the shared euro currency, and reviving French national sovereignty is central to her presidential platform.

Meanwhile, UN high commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, in a blunt speech in Washington, called rising support for Ms Le Pen's nationalist ideas a potential threat to world peace.

Ms Le Pen wrote Zeid an open letter last year in which she criticized international organizations as representing a "global hyperclass ... which scorns peoples, and thus human beings, their diversity and specific riches."

Mr Zeid countered that Ms Le Pen's anti-immigrant party "manifests evident intolerance of diverse customs, beliefs and modes of thought".

He expressed concern that nationalist politicians like Ms Le Pen seem "to feed off the threat of terrorism".

"Can we be so reckless, so stupid, as to risk the future of humanity, simply for the sake of ballots?" he asked.

Francois Fillon
Francois Fillon

Elsewhere, protesters angry at perceived corruption greeted conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon by banging on pots on a campaign stop in northern France.

The incident in the town of Tourcoing is the latest hiccup for Mr Fillon's once-dominant campaign.

He is under investigation over allegations that his family members had high-paying but fake parliamentary jobs. Mr Fillon denies wrongdoing.

As he arrived for a security meeting, about left-wing activists shouted "Fillon in prison!" and chanted "We want fake jobs too!", while a small group of Fillon supporters nearby shouted "Fillon, president!"

Riot police stood by but no violence was reported.

Mr Fillon responded: "When you prevent people from campaigning, we're not really in a democracy any more."

- AP

More in this Section

Coronavirus lockdown exit strategies mulled by world governmentsCoronavirus lockdown exit strategies mulled by world governments

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson ‘improving’ and ‘sitting up in intensive care bed’ with Covid-19UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson ‘improving’ and ‘sitting up in intensive care bed’ with Covid-19

Syrian air force responsible for chemical attacks, says watchdogSyrian air force responsible for chemical attacks, says watchdog

WHO chief says politicisation of Covid-19 will lead to ‘more body bags’WHO chief says politicisation of Covid-19 will lead to ‘more body bags’


Lifestyle

Junior Cert and Leaving Cert students mustn’t be forced to go through the motions with state exams, and we need creative thinking to find alternatives fast, writes mother and educator Ellie O’Byrne.Policy fail? Insistence that state exams go ahead in June is glib and ignorant

Yes, we all need to stay at home but that doesn't mean your children have to be bored, says Michelle McGlynnWorld of wonder: What to do with the children outdoors

Over the next three weeks, I am going to outline how you can support yourself and your family over this period of lockdown, writes Richard Hogan.Learning Points: Keeping children on a healthy and happy regime

As we are settling into our new routines of self isolation, staying at home and home schooling it feels that a whole new set of pressures is coming down the tracks.Mum's The Word: Pressure to be productive in a world of online classes

More From The Irish Examiner