France's ultra-right desert Le Pen for maverick presidential hopeful Éric Zemmour

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Éric Zemmour: "I don’t care about demonization." © Photo montage Mediapart Éric Zemmour: "I don’t care about demonization." © Photo montage Mediapart

French far-right doyenne Marine Le Pen, who just months ago appeared in the running to reach the final, second-round play-off in next April’s presidential elections, is now facing a serious challenge for her electoral turf from a maverick presidential contender, the polemicist and TV pundit Éric Zemmour. While he has no party structure behind him, he is increasingly backed by the ultra-right and its ideologues, who feel betrayed by Le Pen’s attempts to purge her party’s more outspoken extremists and paper over its racist image. “I don’t care about demonization,” says fervently anti-Islam Zemmour who, despite his Jewish origins, has garnered the support of notorious anti-Semites. Lucie Delaporte reports.

The French village mayor resisting Covid health pass and walking legal tightrope

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Dominique Legresy, mayor of the village of Corn in south-west France. © Photo Nicolas Cheviron pour Mediapart Dominique Legresy, mayor of the village of Corn in south-west France. © Photo Nicolas Cheviron pour Mediapart

Introduced in France this summer, a “health pass” attesting that the holder is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, or has recently tested negative to the coronavirus, is required for gaining access to a wide range of public venues. This month, as the government moves to extend its power to impose the pass through to next summer, Mediapart took to the road to gather reactions to the restrictions in the lesser populated rural areas of central and south-west France, where local concerns contrast with those in crowded urban zones. Here, Nicolas Cheviron reports from the village of Corn, whose mayor, Dominique Legresy, a fervent opponent of the pass, confides how he tries “to allow things to happen” without breaking the law.

The lingering issue of colonialism that still shapes France

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Members of a delegation of people from French colonies arrive in Paris for the International Exposition in June 1937. © Photo France presse voir / AFP Members of a delegation of people from French colonies arrive in Paris for the International Exposition in June 1937. © Photo France presse voir / AFP

More than all other the former European imperial powers, France continues to be profoundly shaped by the issue of colonialism, which both determines its relations with the world and fashions how it sees itself. In this article written for the latest issue of the 'Revue du crieur', Mediapart's publishing editor Edwy Plenel looks at France's continuing relationship with its colonial past, a subject often suppressed by its political elites on both the Right and Left. He argues that the country's continuing reluctance to confront its imperial history has made it blind to its multiculturalism and diversity and has encouraged the renaissance of neo-fascism.

A year after Samuel Paty's murder, teachers in France give their verdict on the current classroom mood

By Prisca Borrel
Pupils and teachers gather at the Pierre d'Aragon secondary school at Muret in south-west France on November 2nd 2020, in homage to Samuel Paty. © Photo Lionel Bonaventure / AFP Pupils and teachers gather at the Pierre d'Aragon secondary school at Muret in south-west France on November 2nd 2020, in homage to Samuel Paty. © Photo Lionel Bonaventure / AFP

On October 16th 2020 history and geography teacher Samuel Paty was murdered near his school in the north-west suburbs of Paris where he had previously shown pupils caricatures of Muhammad as part of a lesson. A year later, Mediapart visited a similar-sized community at Alès in southern France to speak to teachers there about life in the classroom following a brutal killing that shocked the nation. They told Mediapart about their hopes, their fears and their complicated relations with pupils who they say are being drip fed with 'fake news'. Some also expressed their anger about an education system they consider to be too passive in the face of the current situation. Prisca Borrel reports.

Mystery of Macron's brutal power play against France's antitrust authority

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The former president of the antitrust body the Autorité de la concurrence, Isabelle de Silva, who was removed by Emmanuel Macron. © ERIC PIERMONT / AFP The former president of the antitrust body the Autorité de la concurrence, Isabelle de Silva, who was removed by Emmanuel Macron. © ERIC PIERMONT / AFP

Abruptly and without any warning, the Élysée decided that it was not renewing Isabelle de Silva's contract as the president of France's competition authority the Autorité de la Concurrence from October 13th. The decision, which has reportedly surprised and dismayed government ministers as well as many observers, was taken so late that a successor has not yet been lined up. The main theory to explain Emmanuel Macron's shock move is that the highly-respected De Silva was seen as an obstacle to the proposed merger between two private French TV companies, TF1 and the smaller M6, a tie-up that the Élysée favours. More generally, the independent Autorité de la Concurrence is also seen as a block to Emmanuel Macron's aim of creating large-scale national business champions. Martine Orange reports.

Is the French Left already resigned to defeat at the 2022 presidential election?

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The National Assembly. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart The National Assembly. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart

Various factions on the Left are already focussing on the Parliamentary elections in June 2022, in apparent acceptance that they are unlikely to perform well at the presidential election that takes place two months earlier. Opinion polls currently suggest that the battle to be the next French head of state in April 2022 will primarily be between the incumbent president Emmanuel Macron, the far-right and, just possibly, the traditional Right. The subsequent Parliamentary elections, to be held over two rounds on June 12th and June 19th, will meanwhile determine the political influence of the various parties on the Left in the National Assembly. Mathieu Dejean and Pauline Graulle report on the potential horse-trading among the Left ahead of those legislative elections and the impact this may have, too, on the race for the presidency itself.

France's shadow hangs over trial into murder of Burkina Faso president Thomas Sankara

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Burkina Faso president Thomas Sankara in August 1986. © Eric Congo / AFP Burkina Faso president Thomas Sankara in August 1986. © Eric Congo / AFP

In 1987 Burkina Faso's president Thomas Sankara, a revolutionary leader, hero of the pan-Africa movement and fierce opponent of imperialism, was gunned down in a coup d'État. Now, 34 years later, the trial of his alleged assassins is shortly to begin in the capital Ouagadougou. As Rémi Carayol reports, the circumstances of the murder are well known. But what we still do not know is who gave the orders for Sankara's assassination, which brought his Burkina Faso revolution to a bloody end. Nor do we know the role, if any, of foreign powers - including the former colonial power France - in his demise.

Paris attacks trial: 'I wanted to see them, to tell them all they've taken from me'

By Roman
The courtroom used for the trial relating to the Paris terrorist attacks of November 13th 2015. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart The courtroom used for the trial relating to the Paris terrorist attacks of November 13th 2015. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart

The trial of 20 individuals accused of variously perpetrating or helping with the carrying out of the November 13th 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris is continuing, in proceedings that are expected to last nine months. As part of its regular coverage of the trial, Mediapart is publishing the first-hand reactions and reflections of seven victims of the massacres as they follow the court proceedings. Here Roman, aged 30, who escaped alive after terrorists attacked La Belle Équipe restaurant where he was dining with friends, gives his evidence to the court about the attacks and describes the events that preceded it.

France's timid political response to damning report on child sex abuse in Catholic Church

Jean-Marc Sauvé, president of the independent CIASE commission into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, presenting his report in Paris on October 5th 2021. © Photo Thomas Coex / AFP Jean-Marc Sauvé, president of the independent CIASE commission into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, presenting his report in Paris on October 5th 2021. © Photo Thomas Coex / AFP

On Tuesday October 5th a report revealed the shocking scale of child sex abuse inside the French Catholic Church over many decades. The report's authors estimate that 330,000 minors have been the victims of sexual abuse within the church since 1950, a majority of them at the hands of ordained clergy. Since the report's publication the overall reaction from the political classes, both Left and Right, has seemed timid. Some politicians, however, are calling for the courts to intervene and for the church to undergo deep reform. Mathieu Dejean, Mathilde Goanec, Pauline Graulle and Ilyes Ramdani report.

Catholic Church sex abuse scandal: the French government's double standards over 'separatism'

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 © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart

For months the French government has continually raised concerns about what it sees as the dangers of “Islamic separatism” in the country and has brought in legislation to tackle it. Yet when in the wake of a major report on child sex abuse in the French Catholic Church a senior bishop suggested that the secrets of the confessional were stronger than the “Republic's laws” there was at first a deafening silence from government ministers. This reluctance to comment came on top of the government's clear embarrassment at the publication of the sex abuse report itself, a document which produced shocking figures on the extent of the scandal in the church. Ellen Salvi reports.

Why Macron's 'conspiracy theory' commission has already lost credibility

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 © Photomontage Mediapart avec AFP © Photomontage Mediapart avec AFP

On September 29th 2021 the Élysée officially unveiled a new commission to help fight against conspiracy theories and disinformation. Officially called the 'Enlightenment in the digital age' commission, President Emmanuel Macron wants it to champion science, reason and truth and come up with new policy options in an era where social media in particular is awash with a bewildering array of views and theories. Critics, however, accuse the head of state of wanting to impose his own narrative ahead of next April's presidential election. Already the membership of the commission has been bitterly criticised, in particular its chair, social scientist Gérald Bronner. And after also coming under fire another member, Professor Guy Vallancien, a high-profile urologist, has just resigned from the body. Joseph Confavreux and Ellen Salvi report.

The growing evidence that agroecology could and should replace intensive farming

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The post-war development in Europe of productivity-driven intensive farming, with its environmentally harmful use of synthetic pesticides, vast fields of monoculture, and industrial animal-rearing, could be feasibly replaced by large-scale organic farming, capable of feeding the continent’s populations under an agricultural umbrella system called agroecology. That is the conclusion of a large and growing body of international scientific research, and the subject of several recent studies published in France. Amélie Poinssot examines the evidence.

Macron's discreet support for climate-harming oil project in Uganda

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Crude oil containers on the shores of Lake Albert in the west of Uganda, January 24th 2020. © Photo Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP Crude oil containers on the shores of Lake Albert in the west of Uganda, January 24th 2020. © Photo Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP

He has not spoken about it publicly. But behind the scenes the French head of state Emmanuel Macron has written to the president of Uganda supporting the role of French oil firm Total in developing an oilfield and a  lengthy new oil pipeline in the East African country. In the capital Kampala, meanwhile, the French embassy has  been wholeheartedly lobbying for the French multinational. Yet the projects are opposed by environmental and human rights groups who say they are not just bad for the climate but will also displace thousands of local people from their land. Mediapart's environment correspondent Jade Lindgaard reports.

Why SPD election victory in Germany is no new dawn for Europe’s social democrats

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Olaf Scholz, the SPD’s candidate to become Germany’s new chancellor, September 27th 2021. © Christof Stache / AFP Olaf Scholz, the SPD’s candidate to become Germany’s new chancellor, September 27th 2021. © Christof Stache / AFP

Germany’s social democrat SPD party came first in the country’s parliamentary elections on September 26th, garnering just more than a quarter of votes cast. It places the centre-left party in prime position to form a new coalition government, which would see Olaf Scholz, the party’s candidate for chancellor, succeed the outgoing Angela Merkel. But, writes Fabien Escalona in this analysis of the wider implications of the election, the knife-edge victory of the once moribund SPD is very much a relative one, and is far from auguring a resurgence of the social democrat movement in Europe, despite similarly fragile recent wins in Nordic countries.

How French firms profit from France's foreign aid agency

By and Anthony Fouchard (Disclose)
The Paris headquarters of the French Development Agency, the AFD. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart The Paris headquarters of the French Development Agency, the AFD. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart

France’s foreign aid agency, the AFD, which provides financial support for developing countries, funds projects in Africa to the tune of billions of euros in contracts in which the principal beneficiaries are French companies, while the details of a number of its activities are not made public for reasons of banking secrecy. Justine Brabant and Anthony Fouchard summarize here the findings of a series of investigations into the AFD's practices by Mediapart in partnership with online newsroom Disclose.