10. The situation in Ukraine affects this weeks’ schedule
The political week in France is expected to be long and intense,
full of unexpected twists and turns: the municipal elections are looming around, so all actors will focus on campaigning. It also means that the majority of the week’s debates is simply unpredictable. However, the so-called Copé affair, revealed by Le Point last week, is expected to occupy a good part of the week’s attention – along with the situation in Ukraine.
What will Copé say?
After last week’s bombshell revelations of the Le Point magazine, the French are eager to hear what the president of the UMP party has to say this Monday. The UMP announced that Jean-François Copé would deliver a “solemn declaration” at 11:00 A.M. this Monday. Though the party did not precise the subject of this declaration, it is widely expected to be about allegations according to which the president overcharged and overpayed Sarkozy-meetings and thus enriched friends with Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign funds.
The problem with these types of revelations is the following: once you are attacked like this in a campaign, the harm is done. The judicial system will not be able to fix this quickly, even if allegations are false. Likewise, if allegations are true, justice will not be done in three weeks. Thus, the Copé affair, for the moment, is played in the communications field. The truth, for now, is secondary. The words of the UMP president will be able to influence the short-term perception of the French, therefore they are and they will be important.
Paradoxally, these allegations are good news for former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is the supposed victim of the wrongdoing. Jean-François Copé, who has been an unpopular party leader, might be fragilized further. The worst case scenario, for Copé, is this: he might just clear himself from the 2017 and facilitate Sarkozy’s return.
The situation in Ukraine, above all
The situation in Ukraine is clearly worrysome and it strongly affects this week’s French political agenda.
As a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, France cannot stay out of the issue. Accordingly, President Hollande discussed the situation in Ukraine with president Obama during the weekend. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected in Paris on Wednesday, and we can be sure that he will also have a Ukraine-related talk with his French partners. (By the way, the French sent a few strong messages to Russia these last few days: the territorial integrity of Ukraine is paramount, no agression is acceptable, and the preparatory meetings of the next G8 should be suspended.) The crisis is expected to be in the forefront of this week’s political agenda, in spite of the ongoing municipal campaign.
Note that European ministers of foreign affairs are expected to convene in Brussels today to discuss the situation in Ukraine.
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