PARIS May 22 President Emmanuel Macron's new
government moved quickly on Monday to act on a campaign promise
to tighten up on ethical standards in French politics after an
election race marred by a embezzlement scandal.
Justice Minister Francois Bayrou held talks with leading
anti-corruption organisations Transparency International and
Anticor and with a Socialist lawmaker who is expert in the field
as he gathered ideas for a new law to clean up politics in
France, which has a long history of corruption scandals.
"We want this document to deal with all the questions which
have been pending, unresolved, for so long ... That means we
will perhaps shake up some habits," Bayrou told reporters after
Macron, who beat far-right leader Marine Le Pen on May 7 to
become president, pledged during the campaign to put forward a
draft law on ethics in public life before the mid-June
The election campaign was jolted by allegations against
conservative candidate Francois Fillon, who was placed under
formal investigation in mid-campaign in March on suspicion of
embezzling state funds.
Once the favourite, Fillon failed to reach the second round
of the election after media disclosures that he had paid his
wife Penelope and two children hundreds of thousands of euros of
public funds for work they may not have carried out.
Under present practice, it is not illegal for French
parliamentarians to employ a family member in their office and
Fillon has denied any wrongdoing.
Le Pen also had legal woes, with French judges asking the
European parliament to lift her parliamentary immunity from
prosecution to allow further investigation into allegations she
misused EU funds to pay for National Front party assistants.
Both the president and prime minister who ruled France in
the mid-1990s, Jacques Chirac and Alain Juppe, were found guilty
of misusing public funds.
They were convicted, Juppe in 2004 and Chirac in 2011 after
retiring, of misusing public money to keep political allies on
the payroll of Paris City Hall for jobs they did not do.
Macron, a centrist whose victory broke the decades-old grip
of traditional right and left-wing parties on power in France,
has said his new law will ban legislators from paying salaries
to their relatives and make all their income liable to tax.
Socialist lawmaker Rene Dosiere gave Bayrou his proposals
for a new ethics law, including stricter conditions to qualify
as a political party to counter an explosion of small parties
whose main goal is often to gather funds.
He also proposes making public the names of people who give
more than 2,500 euros to politicians and to limit legislators to
a maximum of three parliamentary terms. There is no current
Le Pen criticised his idea to ban political parties from
granting loans to their candidates at below market rates,
calling it a "padlocking of political life".
"It is the banks that will decide who has the right to be a
candidate or not," Le Pen said on franceinfo radio.
Le Pen complained during the campaign that banks were
refusing to lend to the National Front.
(Writing by Adrian Croft; Editing by Richard Balmforth)