Legislative 2022: faced with the legal troubles of their candidates, parties in embarrassment or indifference

At each election, the question comes up: can you be a candidate despite legal problems? The laws are no exception to the rule. Latest illustration to date, the case of Taha Bouhafs, invested by La France insoumise in Venissieux (Rhône) before being finally ousted. This controversial journalist was sentenced in the fall of 2021 to a fine of 1,500 euros for “public insult on the grounds of origin” for having described the police unionist Linda Kebbab as“Service Arabic”. However, it was not this conviction, which he appealed, that cost him his investiture, but a case that has not yet been brought to court: “A testimony relating to alleged acts of sexual violence”of which the LFI authorities have been seized.

In terms of law, the rule is clear: if a candidate has not been sentenced to a penalty of ineligibility, nothing prevents him from running. For M’jid El Guerrab, who wanted to represent himself in the 9th constituency of French people living abroad, the decision fell on Thursday, May 12. Sentenced to two years of ineligibility – in addition to three years in prison, one of which is firm – for the helmet attack on former socialist leader Boris Faure in 2017, he cannot be a candidate.

Emmanuel Macron wanted to go further than the current legislation. In 2017, he promised to condition candidacies for an election on the presentation of a clean B2 criminal record. This is an expurgated version of certain convictions (pronounced during the minority, accompanied by a waiver of sentence or suspended sentence, etc.). But in the name of a risk of unconstitutionality, the measure was challenged within the framework of the examination of the law for confidence in political life, which finally provides for an automatic penalty of ineligibility for crimes and certain misdemeanors. Insufficient for Anticor, the approved anti-corruption association.

“It leaves the door open to certain candidates who are definitively condemned to present themselves. It’s a hole in the racket that deserves to be reviewed.”

Béatrice Guillemont, General Manager of Anticor

at franceinfo

In terms of morality, the conduct to follow is much more vague. It depends mainly on the appreciation of the parties. Within the current majority, a charter of 12 commitments has just been published. Ensemble candidates undertake in particular “to fully respect the obligation of probity and to refrain from any risk of conflict of interest and abuse”. They must also “put in place ambitious policies in terms of (…) equality between women and men.”

This charter has no legal value but it contrasts with several controversial nominations. Some candidates are the subject of a criminal or civil complaint or investigation. This is particularly the case of the current Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, candidate in the North and targeted by accusations of rape. The Paris prosecutor’s office has nevertheless requested a dismissal in this case but the investigating judge has yet to rule. Less known, Yves Blein, candidate reinvested in the Rhône, is the subject of a complaint for sexual harassment. An investigation has been opened.

Others are worried about acts of moral harassment, such as Laetitia Avia, reinvested in Paris and under investigation after complaints from ex-collaborators evoking repeated humiliationsWhere Syra Silla, reinvested in Seine-Maritime, and judged Tuesday at the prud’hommes. She had already been sentenced in January 2021 for similar facts and appealed. its renewal, “it’s bullshit”judge a framework of the majority. “Parity cannot justify everything”, supports a member. In general, these investitures make people cringe internally. “Let’s say that certain non-renewals appear all the more unfair when we see certain renewals”slips an elected official.

The indictments of figures of the majority, who benefit from the presumption of innocence, do not constitute an obstacle either to present themselves to the deputies. Thierry Solère, candidate for re-election in Hauts-de-Seine, is being prosecuted on thirteen counts, including “tax evasion”, “fictitious employment” and “illicit financing of election expenses”. Eric Woerth, invested in the fourth district of Oise, where he is the outgoing deputy, is indicted by the Court of Justice of the Republic for a disputed tax boost granted in 2009 to Bernard Tapie. But the public prosecutor has just requested a dismissal, good timing for the ex-Minister LR of the Budget.

Few are those who defend these candidacies. “Everyone has earned their nomination, the voters will make the choice, that’s the beauty of democracy, valued a deputy. No one has been convicted, we must keep reason in all this turmoil.” Which is not true. Jérôme Peyrat, ex-advisor of the Elysée, was returned to Dordogne despite his conviction in 2020 to a suspended fine of 3,000 euros for domestic violence on his ex-companion. A conviction that does not appear on his criminal record, specifies his lawyer. The victim is the subject of a separate procedure for contempt and malicious calls against his ex-companion.

The pill goes very badly for supporters of theoutgoing LREM MP Jacqueline Dubois, ousted. “It’s unacceptable and it discredits us”, plague one of his colleagues in the Assembly. Jacqueline Dubois is “a member who is highly appreciated in the group, hardworking, loyal, presentabounds another parliamentarian. I find that really disgusting towards him. It’s a political mistake.”

“We were the first to say ‘clean criminal record’. Of course, you don’t need a purity society. However, there are nominations that make me uncomfortable.”

A member of the majority

at franceinfo

The latter does not fail to point out that “If our opponents had done that, we would have knocked them out”.

On the left, we try to draw a red line between the tolerable challenges and those which are not. According to our information, the leaders of the New People’s Ecological and Social Union (Nupes) are in the process of drawing up a charter on this subject. The socialist negotiator for the union of the left, Sébastien Vincini, lists the reasons for rejecting candidates: “Someone who has had violent behavior, committed abuse, embezzlement and proven facts in terms of corruption or very clearly made slanderous, homophobic, sexist remarks.”

In this case, why did certain leaders like Jean-Luc Mélenchon support Taha Bouhafs when it was still only a question of his conviction for public insult? “He thought it was a verbal slip. We made him [Taha Bouhafs] the champion of separatism from an expression”, points out Sébastien Vincini. The PS mayor of Cintegabelle (Haute-Garonne) nevertheless considers it necessary that “everyone tries to control their public expression. It is the media coverage that imposes this”.

“You shouldn’t get involved in politics if you don’t want to be exposed and have permanent self-control over everything you say.”

Sébastien Vincini, PS negotiator for the union of the left

at franceinfo

What about Fabien Roussel, targeted by an investigation for suspicions of fictitious employment? Candidate for re-election in the North, the communist is suspected of having been paid as a parliamentary assistant without having actually worked in this position, between 2009 and 2014. He claims to have “the documents” proving otherwise. “It’s a non-topicsweeps Ian Brossat, spokesperson for the PCF. He wasn’t even charged.” No question, however, of having in the ranks of Nupes a case like that of Jérôme Peyrat. “Typically, in what is referred to in our provisions, this would not have been possible”he assures.

On the side of the Republicans, busy with their reconstruction after a disastrous presidential election, we did not bat an eyelid on the renewal of Jacques Cattin in the 2nd constituency of Haut-Rhindespite his indictment for violence against an RN regional adviser. Asked by franceinfo, the party did not respond to our questions on the subject.

On the far right, the executive vice-president of Reconquest! defended the movement’s controversial candidates on franceinfo, Friday morning. “You will find it in all the parties”, launched Nicolas Bay. Among them are Samuel Lafont, who distinguished himself by homophobic tweets, and the activist Damien Rieu, close to the GUD. Candidate in the Alpes-Maritimes, he is the subject of a complaint of the striker of the French football team Karim Benzema for “defamation” after two tweets.

“In a democracy, it’s up to the voters to judge. Not the judges or the media.”

Nicolas Bay, vice-president of Reconquest!

at franceinfo

It must be said that the boss of Reconquête!, Eric Zemmour, himself accumulates a dozen legal cases against him, some of which have resulted in final convictions, in particular for “provocation to racial hatred”. The ex-polemicist put an end to the suspense by announcing, Thursday, his candidacy in the 4th district of Var.

At the National Rally, there is radio silence on the subject, despite numerous requests from franceinfo. Perhaps because the president of the party, Marine Le Pen, is also the subject of several ongoing legal proceedings, including an indictment for “embezzlement of public funds” and “complicity” in the case of suspicions of fictitious jobs of European parliamentary assistants. The presidential finalist is standing in the 11th constituency of Pas-de-Calais. “Some parties are not interested in this ethical constraintnotes Anticor. But it is also up to the voters to keep a close eye on these candidacies.”

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Legislative 2022: faced with the legal troubles of their candidates, parties in embarrassment or indifference

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