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Cahuzac triggers French 'democratic earthquake'

Cahuzac triggers French 'democratic earthquake'
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The Cahuzac affair first saw the light of day at Mediapart, an online newspaper.

At the beginning of December it published the transcript of a four minute recording of someone it said was Jérôme Cahuzac saying: “What annoys me is that I still have an account open at UBS, but there’s nothing left in it is there? The only way to close it is to go there.”

Our Paris correspondent Giovanni Magi caught up with one of the founders of Mediapart for more on the story.

Edwy Plenel told euronews the most important aspect of the scandal is the impact on French democracy.

“What is unprecedented is the democratic earthquake that has been set-off by this scandal. It is not the most serious scandal of recent times – Bettencourt, Karachi, Takédine, Sarkozy, Gadaffi are much more significant in terms of exploiting the justice system, the amount of money, arms trafficking – they are much more serious which weighed heavily on the old conservative right-wing majority.

“What’s new here is the democratic earthquake, because the political class – all sides mixed together – and an element of the media went along with Jérome Cahuzac in his lie.

“For three-and-a-half months, Mediapart was alone, even while the facts were on the table – the facts revealed by Mediapart on the 4th and 5th of December, 2012.

“And today we see this almost oligarchic world, somewhere between politics, money and the media which has gone along with the lies of Mr Cahuzac, and everyone has discovered that the head of the tax department was himself a fraudster. So all French people understand that this is a scandal of public virtue and public morals.”

Euronews asked if this was a severe blow for the image of the “irreproachable Republic”?

Plenel’s replied: “Quite simply, it’s a serious blow for the Republic. It shows that France is a low-grade democracy. There are scandals in all of our countries, and sometimes there are corrupt politicians.

“A living democracy is one where you can not only make revelations, but where once something is revealed, the opposition swings into action and makes sure that justice prevails and sanctions are imposed.

“From day one of these Mediapart revelations, Mr Cahuzac should have left government, not use it to protect himself. He has the right to defend himself, but not to make hostages of his political family, the government, of the current majority, and not to take the State itself hostage by using the services of the State to protect himself.

“It’s that which has been dramatic in all this, and today we are paying the price. And we’ll have to respond to that with a big democratic jolt.”