"Fillon had once presented himself as Mr. Clean. Looking askance at the legal ennuis of his fraternal enemies Nicolas Sarkozy and Alain Juppe, Fillon insisted that “only someone who is irreproachable can lead France” and promised that, should he ever be the object of a police investigation, he we quit his campaign.
And yet the party now finds itself led by a man who is neither irreproachable nor consistent. The next six weeks will reveal how this plays in the first round of the election. We will need to wait a bit longer to see how it plays out for France’s republican institutions. Michel Winock, one of France’s great political historians, described as unprecedented Fillon’s decision to mobilize his followers to challenge the courts. “It is one thing to call them to the voting booths, quite another to call them to the streets.” Winock recalled a fundamental principle of a true republic: the will of voters cannot trump the principles of law.
With Fillon’s sudden populist turn, French voters now confront a possible future not unlike our own. The question, for these sister republics, is whether their constitutional foundations will prove greater than these populist threats. "