Francois Fillon had previously said he would drop out of the French Presidential race if corruption allegations against him resulted in him being placed under formal investigation. But the candidate of the Republican party has just held a press conference to declare that yes, he is being placed under formal investigation over payments to his family but no, he is not dropping out of the race. He has accused the judiciary and the press of attempting a ‘political assassination’.
Fillon’s decision to stay in the race increases the likelihood of a Macron/ Le Pen run off round. The latest polls show Le Pen in the lead in the first with Macron second and Fillon third. A new Republican candidate might have shaken up the race. But Fillon’s decision to limp on makes it likely that Macron and Le Pen will go forward to the final round.
Macron will be the strong favourite to beat Le Pen—and polls suggest he would beat her by a more comfortable margin than Fillon would. But it is worth noting that Macron does not have the ‘Catholic fire break’ against Le Pen that Fillon would.