In French bellwether city, scandal deepens election uncertainty


By Patrick Vignal
| CHARTRES, France

CHARTRES, France Chartres has in past decades been a bellwether for France’s presidential elections, but ahead of this spring’s poll the signal from this white-collar city appears to be blurred by a scandal that has fed into a wave of anti-establishment feeling.

In at least the past four elections, the affluent city famous for its towering thirteenth century gothic cathedral has voted in close alignment with the final national result.

Lying in the Beauce plain 90 km (56 miles) southwest of Paris, Chartres counts perfume makers including Guerlain (LVMH.PA) and Danish pharmaceutical firm Novo Nordisk (NOVOb.CO) as local companies. It should be a fertile ground for center-right challenger Francois Fillon.

The 62-year-old former prime minister’s clean-cut, clean-living image had held appeal in Chartres, run for over 15 years by a conservative mayor.

But embarrassing revelations that his family for years benefited…

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