As a screenwriter, I love politics because I read them like spy stories. Full of twists and turns.
Politics are made of betrayals, a fuel for page-turners. Could the revelation that Sarkozy's Prime minister until 2012, and right arm man François Fillon, met the General Secretary of the Elysée, second in command of the French President, in order to put pressure on French Justice against his former boss, just be a « blunder » ? How could a top politician, like Jean-Pierre Jouyet, best friend with François Hollande, former secretary of State for European Affairs in Fillion's government, be talking to journalists working for « Le Monde », and not imagine that his conversation would be recorded and leaked in some way ? Jean-Pierre Jouyet asserts that he did not know.
In this French « House of Cards », anything is possible. One good argument is that the two journalists, Fabrice Lhomme and Gérard Davet who had already written a first book, manifesto against Sarkozy interviewing all the people he mistreated « Sarko m'a tuer »1 (Sarkozy killed me), could be identified as politically « friendly » and trustworthy. Could Jean-Pierre Jouyet honestly think his conversation would only be published in two years time, when powers would have changed hands?
This conversation was possibly « off the record » as it happens. As a former journalist, I would hesitate twice before burning my source to be on the front page, just once... I suppose the other politicians whom Davet and Lhomme will meet, might be on their guard. It could well be that Jouyet was indeed betrayed if he bet on a long term relationship. It could be there was pressure on journalists' side to publish this scoop because, they were not the only ones to know and could be bypassed by a competitor.
Even if the general secretary was betrayed, it is hardly possible that the man's President, Jean-Pierre Jouyet did not contemplate the possible consequences of letting the journalists into such a burning secret. It is difficult to imagine that François Fillon who asked Jouyet for lunch, did not try to interfere with Sarkozy who despised him, calling him his « collaborateur », « staff ». The ex Prime minister is now suing the General secretary of the Elysée for defamation. It is well possible that the ex collaborateur, just used soft power, hoping for consequences.
Why would Fillion who swallowed so many bitter pills, let it go now ? The last straw, certainly.
François Fillion who once appeared as the ideal son of law on the right wing in the beginning, lost it all. He could have run for presidential election, had he rebelled against Nicolas Sarkozy, when the President started playing the field with the Front National and his « identité nationale ». Later he could have run the UMP, had he not accepted to leave the seat he had won and was deprived of by Jean-François Coppé who openly cheated and who kept his seat as UMP leader until he was targeted by judges for being involved in the bad habits of "Bygmalion" suspected of false invoices...
François Fillion is the unlucky guy, who did not come out of the closet at the right time.
As Churchill said in war you can die once ; in politics, many times.
I tend to think that voluntary or not, it was a quite skilled move on the part of Jean-Pierre Jouyet to reveal this conversation.
In revealing that former Prime minister, François Fillon had tried to put pressure on Justice, or would have liked it, he killed many birds with one stone : in giving publicity to the fact that François Hollande, refused to interfere with Justice, he demonstrated that unlike his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President did not abuse his authority.
And secondly, he managed to throw some light onto another issue, which Nicolas Sarkozy had managed to bury six feet under ; whereas Nicolas Sarkozy was a candidate for the presidential election, he was fined for 516.615 euros for spending over the authorised amount in his political campaign. The fine was to be paid personally but instead Nicolas Sarkozy managed to have the ailing UMP pay it.
Here comes the third bird. Dividing the right wing party, when its members could so easily surf on Hollande's unpopularity was another advantage. He created a wonderful smokescreen for the economic upturn that is slow to materialize.
It could have worked out perfectly but Nicolas Sarkozy has this incredible talent to transform lead into gold. The former French President managed to appear as a victim of his once faithful Prime Minister, François Fillon in creating a smokescreen in order to bury another embarrassing question, called Bygmalion. The communication agency is suspected of having organized a kickback system that financially and morally ruined the right wing party.
Could Nicolas Sarkozy, who pretended to be in two places at the same time, not be aware of the system of false invoice ? Hardly.
Now lets go back to Jean-Pierre Jouyet for with his revealing conversation, he killed a fourth bird. And here comes back the screenwriter in me. My job consists of questioning every choice (if the main character is a girl, what would happen if it was a he and so on...) and in a systematic Uchrony too « what if"... things would not have happened in the same order ?
What would have happened, if the General Secretary of Elysée had not revealed that François Fillion had suggested one way or another to put pressure on Sarkozy ?
No secret resists time in politics.
It would have spread at the velocity of light and the General Secretary would have been accused of hiding a secret relation between the Left and the Right and of collusion. The situation would have been used by the extreme right, Le Front National, exactly as it is now to argue that there is no difference between the left and the right.
But there would be a monumental difference : François Hollande would appear as a liar. So betraying Fillion, who is not the worst guy, was the less dangerous political option.
Who benefits from the crime ?
Nicolas Sarkozy appears as a victim, just the way he wanted for those members who are blind enough to follow him and in the prospect of the election of the head of the party due to take place on November 29 ...
But precisely this strength and these skills, and his perceived invincibility regarding justice, will necessarily backfire on him, at some point.