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by
Michel Gurfinkiel

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May 5, 2013 - 12:00 am
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Earlier cases of illegal foreign money, still under investigation, may also impact the French conservative camp. Was some money linked to navy contracts with Saudi Arabia (the sale of frigates) and Pakistan (the sale of submarines) used for Edouard Balladur’s presidential campaign in 1995, and was Sarkozy, then a close supporter of Balladur, involved?

And what about an even earlier — and even more obscure — case: the sale of six frigates to the Taiwanese navy (an episode which may have involved both socialists and conservatives)?

Many of these matters should have been classified by now. However, new facts and new witnesses, or new links between one case and another, keep popping up almost routinely. Ziad Takieddine, a Lebanese born intermediary who was instrumental in the Saudi and Pakistani contracts of the early 1990s, was also involved in dealings with Libya in the mid-2000s. Since 2012, he has been one of the most vocal denouncers of Sarkozy and his friends.

Beyond illegal foreign money, much illegal domestic money can be found as well. Sarkozy and the conservatives are being investigated regarding undeclared personal donations by the slightly senile Liliane Bettencourt, the richest woman in France (along with her daughter, she owns L’Oréal). However, the Left is in as much trouble as the Right in this respect.

Jerome Cahuzac, the socialist minister of the budget until last month, was keeping an undeclared Swiss bank account and lied publicly about it. Prominent socialist leaders in Marseilles, France’s largest city after Paris, are under investigation for mafia-like practices (President Hollande was summoned as a witness). Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of IMF and a former socialist senior minister, is being investigated for ties with procurers in Lille; some wonder whether there might be a link with the local socialist administration. Even the case of Thomas Fabius, the 32-year-old son of the current socialist foreign minister and former prime minister Laurent Fabius, raises concern.

Can the French trust their judges, at least? When it comes to first-class investigative magistrates like Renaud Van Ruymbeke, the main investigator in the Taiwan frigates affair and many other cases, the answer is yes. However, many judges are seen as partial and politically motivated; in particular the members of Syndicat de la Magistrature (SM), a left-wing magistrates union. A few days ago, French TV journalist Clément Weill-Raynal videotaped the “Ass***** Wall” (Mur des Cons, in plain French) at the SM office: a board loaded with pictures and hate messages directed at various conservative or right-wing VIPs. Not exactly what would be expected from magistrates in a democratic country.

In other places, Weill-Raynal might have been celebrated as a courageous whistle-blower. In France, he has been lampooned by the left-wing press and the left-wing unions for “not acting properly as a journalist, and may even be penalized.

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Michel Gurfinkiel is the Founder and President of the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute, a conservative think-thank in France, and a Shillman/Ginsburg Fellow at Middle East Forum.

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All Comments   (7)
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Well, if democracy is going to rot in France, all I have to say about that is "Well, its about time!" Democracy was a terrible institution that was unworkable, and was the direct cause of one of the biggest horrors in history, the French Revolution.

Oh, and speaking of which, the man you honored with your conservative group, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, was certifiably insane and would definitely be considered a leftist, or a liberal, not a conservative, certainly not of the right. Heck, he and his followers were the progenitors of the left, in fact. His teachings, godless I should point out, were singlehandedly responsible for the horrors France had to undergo during the Reign of Terror and throughout the Revolution, just as Karl Marx and his teachings were directly responsible for the horrors of National Socialism and Communism of all stripes and colors. Heck, Rousseau and the Revolution were what inspired Marx and Engels to create that horrifying ideology.

Please, Mr. Gurfinkel, disband the Rousseau institute. Rousseau was about as "conservative" as Karl Marx is, and is an insult to conservatives everywhere.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"There is much talk these days of the state of Qatar buying all of France, or supporting all of France. " You mean Qatar with the GDP about the size of Alabama? The French will believe anything.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There is real news here. This could be cast as a cautionary tale for the US.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Two centuries of experience tells us that this government represents the French people all to well. That is the problem. Just as conservatives are beginning to see that Obama represents Americans all to well. The great Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville, who admired and loved America, warned that the absolute worst element that could invade democratic government was universal suffrage. We're there.

Arguing about the resulting politicians misses the point.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think, from a British perspective, that you are somewhat mistaken. The French people take their democracy very seriously; I have the impression that, at the local level, France is genuinely democratic. The problem is at the big city-level (Bernard Tapie was le Fromage Grand in Marseilles, at one time) and especially at the national level, where the establishment gave up on democracy when de Gaulle seized power in 1958. France is governed essentially by former pupils, ""Enarques", of the Ecole Nationale d'Administration (ENA, National School of Government); all too often, in national elections, regardless of promises made during the campaigns, power is merely handed from one Enarque to another and the same policies as before continue. This is how Tapie, once a government minister for the Socialists, is now thick as thieves (whoops, did I say that?) with the ostensibly right-wing crowd.

And in Europe, we have somehow contrived to let the ultimate sewer-rats in Brussels lord over us.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well said.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Hmmm, a European government corrupted by money? Only one?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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