campaign funding

The wealthy donors funding French far-right presidential candidate Éric Zemmour

France — Investigation

Last November, far-right polemicist Éric Zemmour, a newspaper columnist and TV pundit with several conviction for hate speech, announced he was standing in France’s presidential elections. Without an established party apparatus behind him, Zemmour’s campaign team have been networking the wealthy in search of financial donors. Mediapart has gained access to documents that reveal the identities of 35 of the largest donors, mostly found through fundraising dinners where guests include industrialists, bankers, high-flying lawyers and management consultants. Sébastien Bourdon, Ariane Lavrilleux and Marine Turchi report.

Sarkozy shuns court as election funding trial rekindles old party infighting


The delayed trial of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and 13 others over the financing of his failed 2012 presidential election campaign finally got under way on Thursday May 20th in Paris. Sarkozy, the only one of the accused not to appear in court, is accused of the “illegal funding of an election campaign” and faces up to a year in prison and a fine of up to 3,750 euros if found guilty. The prosecution says the ex-president's election campaign spent nearly double the 22.5-million-euro legal spending limit. To hide this illegal overspend a PR and events company is said to have sent fake bills to Sarkozy's UMP party (now called Les Républicains) rather than the election campaign itself. Sarkozy, who was convicted of corruption and influence peddling in a separate case on March 1st, and all the other accused deny the charges. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan was in court to hear the divisions that are already emerging between the different defendants.

Nicolas Sarkozy should stand trial over 'illegal' election funding, say prosecutors


The French prosecution authorities say the former president should face court proceedings over his role in the “illegal” funding of his failed 2012 presidential election campaign which spent more than double the legal spending limit. It is now for the investigating judges to have the final say as to whether Sarkzoy and others should finally face trial or not. If he is sent for trial it will be a potential blow to the ex-president's political hopes ahead of the 2017 presidential election in which he hopes to be a candidate. But, crucially, any such trial would not be scheduled before next May's election – and if Sarkozy is elected president it would be postponed until 2022 at the earliest. Mathilde Mathieu reports.