What the success of Podemos says about the French Left

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias. © Reuters Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias. © Reuters

Last Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Spain saw the newly-founded left-wing Podemos party take third place with just under 21% of votes cast, right behind the PSOE socialist party (22%) and the conservative PP (28.72%). Mediapart editor François Bonnet and political correspondent Stéphane Alliès argue here that this groundbreaking victory for Podemos, a new left-wing alternative that was founded only last year, provides the French Left with major lessons to learn. But, they conclude, old habits die hard.

Fight for justice over African troops shot by French Army

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On December 1st, 1944 dozens, perhaps scores, of African colonial troops who had fought for the Allies during World war II were shot dead by soldiers of the French Army in Senegal. The official story is that these infantrymen and former prisoners of war had staged an armed revolt because they had not been paid. Relatives of those killed or jailed for “rebellion” insist, however, that the French Army committed a massacre. Géraldine Delacroix reports on a recent court case that examined this grim episode in French colonial history.

Nicolas Sarkozy unites the French Right – against him

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The end of the regional elections in France last weekend was the starting gun for another contest – to choose the Right's candidate for the next presidential election. Already, ahead of this primary scheduled for the autumn of 2016, two clear ideological lines have emerged as have a host of competing candidates. Just one factor seems to unite them all and that is hostility towards their own leader, Nicolas Sarkozy, who is widely blamed for assisting the rise of the far-right Front National. Ellen Salvi reports.

French judges send IMF chief Lagarde for trial

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IMF chief Christine Lagarde. © Reuters IMF chief Christine Lagarde. © Reuters

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde has been sent for trial in France for “negligence” when she was French finance minister in her management of an arbitration process that awarded French businessman Bernard Tapie with 404 million euros paid out of public funds, Mediapart can reveal. Earlier this month the Paris appeals court ordered Tapie to pay back the controversial 2008 payout. Michel Deléan and Laurent Mauduit report.

French war on terror: 2,500 searches but just two investigations

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Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve addressing the National Assembly on November 19th, 2015. © Reuters Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve addressing the National Assembly on November 19th, 2015. © Reuters

Following the French government's decision to declare a state of emergency in the wake of the November 13th terror attacks in Paris, the authorities have carried out 2,500 searches that did not require judicial approval, in the name of fighting terrorism. But so far these so-called administrative searches have led to just two preliminary investigations by the antiterrorism prosecution authorities in Paris and no one has been held in custody in connection with either of them. As Louise Fessard reports, a French parliamentary committee will report this week on the “abuses” carried out under the state of emergency.

French local elections: no regions for Front National but vote grows

France returned to the polling stations on Sunday for the second and final round of voting to decide the make-up of the councils that will govern the country’s 13 new ‘super’ regions. Though in the first-round voting the far-right Front National drew massive support, arriving in first position in six regions, it failed to win control of a single region in the second round. Thus in many ways the outcome was a setback for Marine Le Pen's party, as many conservative and left-wing voters voted tactically to keep the far-right out of power. Yet the Front National showed that it is now firmly implanted in all of France apart from the Greater Paris region, and with more than 6.6 million French people voting for it the party beat its previous record set at the 2012 presidential elections. Meanwhile the ruling Socialist Party did better than many predicted, picking up five of the regions, though it lost control of Greater Paris. On the other hand Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative Les Républicains picked up only seven regions - some thanks to tactical voting from the Left - a mediocre performance for the leading mainstream opposition party that will raise question marks over the former president's leadership. Here is Mediapart's live coverage of the results, reaction and analysis in English.

Naomi Klein on the "mixed day" of COP 21 climate deal

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Vidéo dans l'article Vidéo dans l'article

Naomi Klein is a Canadian social activist and author and a director of climate activist group 350.org, whose 2014 book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate became her third major international bestseller. Klein has been in Paris throughout the two-week United Nations climate conference COP 21 which began on November 30th, and kept a regular video blog in English published on Mediapart, a project in partnership with US weekly magazine The Nation. In her final contribution (all six blogs are on this same page), she comments on the end of the summit on Saturday, “a mixed day” and an agreement Klein says “does not leave us safe”.

The detail of the hidden assets that landed Guy Wildenstein in the dock

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One of the world’s most prominent art dealers, Guy Wildenstein, is to stand trial in Paris next month on charges of tax fraud and money laundering. The case centres on undeclared assets from the estate of his late father Daniel Wildenstein, for which Guy Wildenstein and other members of his family have received a record tax adjustment totalling 550 million euros. Mediapart has gained access to the judicial document detailing the case for the trial, and which reveals the staggering sums involved and the complex offshore structures that hid, among other assets, a stash of prized artworks. Laurent Mauduit reports.

How the far-right handed Sarkozy his dismissal notice

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Vote counting in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie region. © Reuters Vote counting in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie region. © Reuters

Among all the political casualties of the first round of France’s regional elections last weekend, when the far-right Front National party achieved a landslide share of votes cast, none was left in poorer shape than Nicolas Sarkozy, leader of the recently-renamed conservative opposition party, Les Républicains.  The success of the Front National, and the retreat of support for the conservatives, is widely forecast to be sealed in next Sunday’s final round of voting. Mediapart editor François Bonnet and political correspondent Ellen Salvi analyse why the former president, since his return to active politics 18 months ago, has failed to reconstruct the mainstream Right, and how, by perpetually mimicking the far-right, he has handed them victory.  

French regional elections: first round as it happened plus final results

France went to the urns on Sunday in the first of two-round elections to decide the makeup of the councils of France’s 13 newly-formed ‘super’ regions. The poll, held December 6th and 13th, is an important test of the French political map, 18 months away from presidential and parliamentary elections. The final results show a massive victory for the far-right Front National, which garnered the biggest share of the vote nationwide and goes into the second round next Sunday with its candidates in the lead in six regions. This is Mediapart’s coverage in English of results and reaction after the first-round vote on Sunday, with an update of final scores on Monday.

Socialists fear options after regional rout in SE France

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Election billboards in Nice. © ES Election billboards in Nice. © ES

France’s far-right Front National (FN) party is hoping to take control of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in nationwide regional elections played out today and next Sunday. The council of this south-east corner of France has been run for 17 years by the Socialist Party, which is now predicted to receive a drubbing. The main predicament facing the socialists after the first round is whether or not to withdraw their list of candidates for the benefit of the hard-right conservative candidate to defeat the FN. But, as Ellen Salvi reports from Nice, even collective political suicide may not be enough to stop the increasingly popular far-right.

France’s regional elections made volatile by Paris attacks

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Nieulle-sur-Seudre. © Mathieu Magnaudeix Nieulle-sur-Seudre. © Mathieu Magnaudeix

Next Sunday France goes to the polls to elect the members of the councils ruling the country’s new administrative regions, and which will be an important test of the popularity of the far-right Front National party tipped to draw strongly increased support. The two-round elections for the 13 new super-regions, created in a reform earlier this year from 22 previous regions, are overshadowed by the immense shock felt across France after the terrorist massacres in Paris last month. Mathieu Magnaudeix travelled before and after the attacks to the new Aquitaine-Poitou-Charentes-Limousin region in south-west France where, bucking the trend, the Socialist Party was confident of victory. On his return visit last weekend, he found that optimism had completely disappeared in the aftermath of the attacks.

Paris climate summit: the unanswered questions

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The United Nations international climate summit, COP21, opened at Le Bourget close to Paris on November 30th in unusual circumstances. The host country France is under a state of emergency as it welcomes leaders, negotiators and activists from around the world. As Mediapart's environment correspondent Jade Lindgaard reports, a deal at the summit appears to be within reach, but doubts and questions remain about the real direction of the negotiations.

France: a government outside the law, a state out of control

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Two weeks after the November 13th terror attacks, France's Fifth Republic is gripped by fear, a clamour for war and the spectacle of a government that is out of control. This headlong rush towards security at all costs – including the arrest of climate activists ahead of the Paris climate summit - is storing up new crises for the future. The fact that it is a socialist government that has taken France down this route recalls the bad old days of the discredited Fourth Republic, writes Mediapart editor François Bonnet.

The lottery of France's laws on smoking cannabis

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For many years successive French governments have opposed the decriminalisation of cannabis, unlike many other countries. However, France did recently bring in on-the-spot police fines in a bid to simplify procedures and avoid lengthy and costly court cases for cannabis users. However, this new approach will not end the disparities and lack of coherence in the existing repressive policy, under which prosecution for using cannabis depends as much on who you are and where you live as on what you smoke. Michaël Hajdenberg reports.