The Socialist Francois Hollande's presidency failed in large part under the weight of unsuccessful efforts to get French government spending under control and to remove barriers to economic growth. But then Penelopegate hit.
In the past week, he has received several high-profile endorsements, including from François Bayrou, who ran for president in the last three elections and won nine percent of the vote in 2012. It noted that it is not illegal for members of the French parliament to hire relatives, but the jobs must be legitimate. Police are now investigating whether Penelope provided services for the salary she received. In addition, the issuing of comfortable salaries for two of his children, Marie and Charles is also under consideration. She was also alleged to have picked up €100,000 for writing a handful of articles for a literary journal.
The former Prime Minister, who is running for the centre-right Républicains, battled down a rebellion by members of his party last month and insisted his withdrawal from the race would destabilise their campaign. Fillon has said that these two facts were unrelated.
"To imagine that investigations could have been ordered on Fillon or Marine Le Pen is completely absurd because it's illegal", Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas told a newspaper on Sunday.
Fillon has repeatedly denied charges that he used "fake jobs" to enrich his family. "So the politicians might talk about it, but they don't act", he said.
The European Parliament has already accused Le Pen on funds misuse and she has been asked to repay almost Euro 300,000 for hiring two people for her campaign from European funds.
"I won't give in, I won't surrender, I won't pull out, I'll fight to the end", Fillon said in a speech in Paris. "I will be there when democracy chooses the future of France".
French presidential candidate François Fillon has been summoned by magistrates on Wednesday investigating claims that his wife was paid for work she did not do.