François Fillon’s “Grand rassemblement populaire” at the Trocadéro this afternoon. It was make or break for his candidacy, or so they were saying in his LR party: if fewer than 50,000 showed up, he was dead in the water, with no choice but to drop out of the race. If there were more than 50K, then he stays. For now, at least. Fillon and his supporters say there were 200K; the police figure—invariably accurate—is 40 to 50K. I went, just to observe and take pics. It was hard to get a sense of the crowd size except that it seemed big, as it was impossible to enter the square. It was a le peuple de droite: mainly older conservative bourgeois Catholics. Fillon’s hardcore base. He was on the France 2 news this evening for 20 minutes, playing the victim and insisting that he’s maintaining his candidacy. Alain Juppé will be making a statement tomorrow morning and the LR Comité Politique—comprised of the party’s top heavyweights—meets at 6pm. If Fillon hasn’t withdrawn from the race by Tuesday, that means he’s in to the bitter end. And the French Republican party crashes and burns on April 23rd.
A couple dozen of my photos of the rally—with commentary—are in an album here.
UPDATE: The central role played in the organization of the Trocadéro rally by Sens Commun—the political emanation of the anti-gay marriage “Manif pour tous” movement of 2013—has been observed by many, not to mention the hard-right demographic of the rally itself, and of Fillon’s hardcore conservative base more generally. The May 8th Le Canard Enchaîné has a short item on this.