+++ P.O. (BBG) Fillon Party Members Abandon Him as Campaign Turmoil Deepens

P.O.

It is obvious to me that Mr Fillon is not an acceptable candidate to the office of President of the French Republic.

And his refusal to quit only increases the odds of Mrs Le Pen winning her bid to the Presidency.

Francisco (Abouaf) de Curiel Marques Pereira

(Bloomberg) — French presidential candidate Francois Fillon’s campaign woes deepened as the exodus of lawmakers and other elected officials from his own party gathered pace Thursday.

More than 40 politicians said they could no longer support a presidential candidate facing charges for the alleged embezzlement of public funds. The latest departures included lawmakers Benoist Apparu, Edouard Philippe and Christophe Bechu, as well as his campaign treasurer Gilles Boyer and Paris city Councilor Pierre-Yves Bournazel. They were joining Bruno Le Maire, his foreign policy adviser and former agriculture minister, who quit his campaign team on Wednesday.

Fillon, the 62-year-old former prime minister, vowed Wednesday to maintain his candidacy, saying his judicial woes amounted to a “political assassination.” While Fillon was still front runner in the race to become France’s next president as little as two months ago, the investigation into his employment of his wife has marred his campaign since mid-January. Some Republicans are calling for Alain Juppe, another former premier who was beaten by Fillon in their party’s primary, to take over the campaign.

“I don’t think we have a single minute to lose in showing we have the ability to react to what has happened,” Georges Fenech, a Republican lawmaker said on BFM television. “I think Alain Juppe offers an alternative.”

Campaigning near the southern town of Nimes, Fillon insisted that his base “is holding.” He will speak again at 7:15 p.m. Paris time.

Meanwhile, some members of his party said his decision to not quit the race was helping the anti-immigrant, anti-euro party of Marine Le Pen.

“Up until now, it was the Socialists who were driving the National Front up, now it’s us,” Gerald Darmanin, a member of Fillon’s team and a supporter of former President Nicolas
Sarkozy, said in a tweet. “I’m ashamed of my party.”