French presidential hopeful Juppé borrows Hollande's tactics to fell Sarkozy

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Alain Juppé. © Reuters Alain Juppé. © Reuters

This week the knives were sharpening in the battle between rivals to become the 2017 presidential election candidate for the French conservative opposition party Les Républicains, with latest contenders bringing the total to ten. Defying earlier predictions, the current clear favourite, ahead of primaries to be held in the autumn, is Alain Juppé, the 70-year-old former prime minister whose principal rival is his party's leader, Nicolas Sarkozy. Mediapart political correspondent Ellen Salvi examines the striking resemblance of Juppé’s successful campaign to that of French President François Hollande in his bid to wrestle power from Sarkozy four years ago.

Geneva launches legal battle to shut French nuclear plant

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The Swiss canton, or state, of Geneva has launched legal action aimed at forcing the closure of the ageing, accident-prone French nuclear plant at Bugey, which lies just 70 kilometres from the border with Switzerland. The lawsuit is for “the deliberate endangering of lives” and “water pollution”. If successful, this extraordinary move could encourage other countries bordering France and its network of 58 nuclear reactors to take similar action. Agathe Duparc reports from Geneva where the local authorities presented their case at a press conference on Monday.

Why President Hollande fears France's students

What French governments fear: when students take to the streets. © Reuters What French governments fear: when students take to the streets. © Reuters

A total of 20 student and youth organisations have called for protests on Wednesday, March 9th against the government's proposed reforms of employment law. Though the formal presentation of the bill has now been postponed pending further discussions with trade unions, ministers still fear the spectre of widespread social mobilisation, of the kind seen ten years ago that sank plans for new workplace contracts. In particular, President François Hollande is afraid the final months of his presidency would be doomed if students take to the streets in large numbers. Lénaïg Bredoux and Faïza Zerouala report on the unpredictability of France's student protests.

The glitzy, murky world of man accused of vast French carbon trading fraud

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From left to right : Arnaud Mimran with Benjamin Netanyahou, Patrick Bruel, Puff Daddy and Meyer Habib. © Mediapart From left to right : Arnaud Mimran with Benjamin Netanyahou, Patrick Bruel, Puff Daddy and Meyer Habib. © Mediapart

He has been on good terms with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, played poker regularly with well-known French singer and actor Patrick Bruel and is close friends with a champion French boxer. But French businessman Arnaud Mimran is now accused of being one of the organisers of the 'hold-up of the century' - a carbon trading scam that in total cost French taxpayers 1.6 billion euros. He is also suspected of having organised the kidnapping of a wealthy Swiss financier, while his name has been cited in connection with several unsolved murders. Fabrice Arfi reports.

French labour law reform: anatomy of a political fiasco

Facing the storm: employment minister Myriam El Khomri and prime minister Manuel Valls. © Reuters Facing the storm: employment minister Myriam El Khomri and prime minister Manuel Valls. © Reuters

On Monday February 29th the prime minister Manuel Valls announced that the government was postponing for two weeks the formal presentation of a new bill reforming employment law. This concession came after days of vociferous opposition to the bill from trade unions, students and many members of France's ruling Socialist Party itself who see the measure as an attack on workers' rights. Mediapart's Lénaïg Bredoux, Rachida El Azzouzi, Mathilde Goanec and Mathieu Magnaudeix analyse how what was intended to be a flagship government reform went so badly wrong.

French state justifies 'racial profiling' in police searches

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The French state is currently appealing to the highest court in the country after five identity checks carried out by police were judged discriminatory because they were based on people's appearance. Mediapart has now seen the legal arguments made by state lawyers who argue that in some circumstances it can be justifiable for police to target black and North Africans for such searches. Thus despite domestic and international jurisprudence, writes Michaël Hajdenberg, the French state appears to be condoning the practice of racial profiling.

France's other green protest: against Center Parcs

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The home of protesters who are trying to stop a Center Parcs holiday centre from being built. The home of protesters who are trying to stop a Center Parcs holiday centre from being built.

The protesters who have occupied the proposed site for a new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes near Nantes in west France have grabbed media attention in recent years. Less well-known are the environmental activists who have set up a similar camp in an ancient forest on the other side of the country in a bid to stop the development of a new Center Parcs holiday centre. As Jade Lindgaard reports, unlike their anti-airport counterparts, the protesters opposing the Center Parcs project are from being universally popular with locals.

French ministers 'obstructed' Ivory Coast bombing probe

By Antton Rouget
Facing trial? Ex-ministers Michèle Alliot-Marie, Dominique de Villepin and Michel Barnier. © Reuters Facing trial? Ex-ministers Michèle Alliot-Marie, Dominique de Villepin and Michel Barnier. © Reuters

In November 2004 nine French soldiers and an American humanitarian worker were killed at Bouaké in the Ivory Coast in a bombing raid carried out by that country's air force. Yet more than eleven years later the foreign mercenaries who are thought to have conducted the raid have never been brought to account. Now a French investigating judge has recommended that three senior French ministers who served under President Jacques Chirac at the time - Dominique de Villepin, Michèle Alliot-Marie and Michel Barnier – stand trial for hindering the initial investigation. Antton Rouget reports.

French socialists face rift after ex-leader attacks Hollande

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Martine Aubry on the warpath, seen here with current party boss Jean-Christophe Cambadélis. Martine Aubry on the warpath, seen here with current party boss Jean-Christophe Cambadélis.

The former first secretary of the French Socialist Party (PS), Martine Aubry, has launched a ferocious attack on the policies of President François Hollande and his prime minister Manuel Valls. Her trenchant comments in an article in Le Monde – seen by some as a call by Hollande to ditch his prime minister - in turn led to bitter criticism of her stance from government loyalists. It remains unclear where Aubry's initiative will lead. But as Mediapart's Stéphane Alliès reports, it looks as if support for the socialist government could now be in a minority within the Socialist Party itself.

Protesting French farmers turn on their own leaders

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A farm slogan in Brittany proposing a solution to the 'milk war'. © DR A farm slogan in Brittany proposing a solution to the 'milk war'. © DR

Despite the French government's attempt to calm the situation, angry farmers are continuing to protest over the prices they are receiving for their produce. On Sunday evening a group of farmers even went to the home of agriculture minister Stéphane Le Foll to demand action. But as Mediapart's Karl Laske found when he visited Finistère in Brittany in the west of France, farmers are not only angry with politicians – but with their own union leaders and local cooperatives too.

When Paris attacks gunman spoke of his 'transformation' in prison

By Warda Mohamed
Amedy Coulibaly. Amedy Coulibaly.

In December 2008, freelance journalist Warda Mohamed interviewed a 26-year-old convicted delinquent who hid his identity behind the pseudonym ‘Hugo’. The interview centred on the repeat offender’s experiences in prison, where he served time for crimes including armed robbery and drugs trafficking. Little more than six years later, Mohamed discovered that ‘Hugo’ was in fact Amedy Coulibaly, who shot dead a policewoman and four customers of a kosher store during the January 2015 Islamist terrorist massacres in Paris. Here Mohamed returns to that interview in 2008, when Coulibaly explained how he was “transformed” by prison.

EDF 'facing financial meltdown' at Hinkley Point

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A project by French energy giant EDF to build two European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs) at the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant in south-west Britain has mobilised large numbers of its staff and management against the move. They believe that the huge industrial and financial risks for EDF may result in a meltdown of the group. Martine Orange reports.

Ségolène Royal, a political revenant who has become irremovable

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Ségolène Royal with Cuban President Raul Castro at a ceremony in front of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, February 1st. © Reuters Ségolène Royal with Cuban President Raul Castro at a ceremony in front of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, February 1st. © Reuters

Ségolène Royal has led an up and down political career over three decades. After serving three ministerial posts and three terms as an MP, she lost, as socialist candidate, the 2007 presidential elections to Nicolas Sarkozy, narrowly lost her 2008 bid to become Socialist Party leader, was humiliated in the 2011 socialist primaries, and lost in legislative elections in 2012. But, retaining a power base as a local council leader in mid-west France, the 63-year-old former wife of President François Hollande is now back in the stable of power. Made environment minister in 2014, her ministry emerged from this month’s government reshuffle with added powers, including her role as president of post-COP 21 UN climate talks. But she is also regarded as a key figure for Hollande’s hopes of re-election in 2017. Mathieu Magnaudeix reports.

Nicolas Sarkozy, chief of a clan of 32 implicated in corruption scams

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Former French president and now conservative opposition party leader Nicolas Sarkozy was this week placed under investigation – a restrictive legal status one step short of being charged – for his role in the suspected illegal financing of his failed re-election campaign in 2012. Sarkozy is also under investigation for corruption in a separate case, and his hopes of a new bid for the presidency in 2017 now appear seriously damaged. But, as Fabrice Arfi details here, behind Sarkozy’s personal judicial woes are also those of no less than 32 of his close allies who have been either convicted or placed under investigation in a series of cases centring on corruption, money laundering, fraud and influence peddling.

Paris terror attacks heighten bitter divide between police and gendarmerie

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Strained relations: French police head Jean-Marc Falcone (l) with gendarmerie boss Denis Favier. © Reuters Strained relations: French police head Jean-Marc Falcone (l) with gendarmerie boss Denis Favier. © Reuters

Policing in France is divided up between the national police force, which covers urban areas, and the gendarmerie, which covers mostly rural zones. The two forces have a historic rivalry, which is further complicated by the sometimes surreal bureaucracy concerning their geographical limits of operation. The terrorist attacks in France in 2015 have exacerbated the mistrust between the two, beginning with tensions between their elite intervention forces which have now spread through the ranks and into mutually denigrating rumour campaigns relayed by the media. Matthieu Suc reports.