Controversy surrounds Wauquiez's pension

The path to the top spot of Les Républicans - France’s major conservative party – has not been quite as smooth as Laurent Wauquiez expected.

After a scandal-plagued presidential election season, there were certainly vacancies in the party leadership.

However, as France24 reports, monthly publication Lyon Capitale revealed earlier this week that Wauquiez had received 13 years’ worth of pension credits for a post that he held for only two months.

Wauquiez, president of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, had been a favorite for the top post in LR.

According to the Lyon Capitale report, Wauquiez has filed for 13 years’ worth of secondments from his position as master of requests in the Conseil d’Etat.

He only served in that position for two months. At that time, he took leave in order to pursue political office. He was elected and, at 29, became the youngest deputy in the Assemblée Nationale. He went on to serve as state secretary for employment, minister for higher education and research, and junior minister for European Affairs.

He has done nothing illegal – he has drawn no salary and makes contributions to the civil service pension plan. The 2013 Cahuzac law cannot be retroactively applied to his case.

“I have no problem being totally transparent about my situation,” Wauquiez said in response to Lyon Capitale’s allegations.

Former president Francois Hollande was criticized for doing something similar with his Cour des Comptes pension. Current president Emmanuel Macron formally resigned his position in 2016 so he could avoid this particular criticism. Two other prominent conservatives, Bruno Le Maire and Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, have done the same. Kosciusko-Morizet is one of Wauquiez’s main rivals.

Although Wauquiez’s behavior is not illegal, it looks bad, especially given his harsh criticism of people who abuse welfare benefits. His opponents were quick to accuse him of hypocrisy. According to Le Figaro, Wauquiez intends to sue New Left’s Olivier Faure for defamation after Faure tweeted (originally in French), “Wauquiez is perpetuating the tradition of fake jobs #doasisaynotasido”.

LR were hoping that their presidential election, schedule for the end of 2017, would provide a fresh start. Their nominee for president, François Fillon, had been the odds-on favorite. However, the “fake jobs” scandal destroyed his chances.

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