Migration study finds dramatic rise in numbers leaving France

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The numbers of people leaving France to live abroad has risen dramatically over the past eight years in comparison to the numbers of those taking up residence in the country, according to a study published this week by the French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. The institute also found that immigration now accounts for a relatively small proportion of the growth in the French population. Michel de Pracontal reports.

Defining the troubled notion of secularism in France

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Jean-Louis Bianco is head of France’s Secularism Monitoring Centre, a public body that advises public institutions, local authorities and the private sector, among others, on the country’s laws on secularity and their application. Amid an increasingly tense political debate over multiculturalism in France, the legislation has rarely been so fiercely championed - but also brought into question. To address the misunderstandings by both camps, Bianco travels France each week to discuss the principle and the detail of the law with various sections of the population. Mathieu Magnaudeix followed him on one such trip to a small town in north-east France.

The everyday misery behind Paris cleaning agents' strike

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For the past three weeks, a group of about fifty cleaning agents employed in the upkeep of publicly-run subsidised social housing projects in Paris and its nearby suburbs have led a strike over pay and working conditions. The movement, which has received no press coverage, reveals the poor and widely ignored professional environment of a vulnerable workforce paid less than the monthly minimum fulltime wage. Mathilde Goanec reports.

Prosecutor demands suspended jail term for top Sarkozy aide in ministry cash scam

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At the end of an eight-day trial in Paris of five prefects charged with embezzling public funds, prosecutors have demanded a 30-month suspended jail sentence and a 75,000-euro fine for Nicolas Sarkozy’s former chief of staff and ex-interior minister, Claude Guéant, who they described as playing “the leading role” in a scam that siphoned off 210,000 euros in cash reserved for police investigations. Michel Deléan reports.

Unions warn against 'divisive' Air France strategy after assault on executives

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Le DRH d'Air France violemment pris à partie par les manifestants © Reuters Le DRH d'Air France violemment pris à partie par les manifestants © Reuters

The physical attacks upon two Air France executives on Monday by a small group of airline staff protesting a plan of job losses has been widely condemned by trade unions, management and government. The assaults, in which the Human Resources director and the long-haul flight manager had their clothing ripped off, dramatically underlined the high tensions within the struggling airline over its announcement it is to shed 2,900 jobs over the next two years. Mathilde Goanec and Dan Israel report.

The growing tension between farmers and the French state

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Two health and safety inspectors believe their car was deliberately sabotaged during a visit to a market gardener in west France, and are furious that prosecutors dropped their investigation. The affair highlights mounting tension between state officials and farmers as the latter protest about low prices and as the government tries to placate farmers' ire by telling officials to ease off on their inspections. Mathilde Goanec reports.

Blatter's final play: stopping Frenchman Michel Platini from heading FIFA

By Antoine Grynbaum
Michel Platini © Reuters Michel Platini © Reuters

Sepp Blatter, the head of football's ruling body FIFA, and former French star Michel Platini are now in the sights of the Swiss judicial authorities. Blatter is being investigated for “criminal mismanagement”, while questions have been raised over an allegedly “underhand” payment the Frenchman received from the FIFA boss. Football writer Antoine Grynbaum describes how the once-close relationship between the two men turned sour and what it means for Platini's own bid for football's top job.  

Centrists force Sarkozy to ditch ally over 'white race' France comments

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A leading candidate from the right-wing Les Républicains (LR) party looks set to be de-selected from December's regional elections after she described France as a “white race” country. However, party boss Nicolas Sarkozy only ditched loyalist Nadine Morano after days of public controversy and mounting pressure from the party's centrist allies. As Ellen Salvi reports, the episode highlights the divide between the views of the LR leadership and those of grassroots members.

Former French interior minister in dock over cash payments

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Claude Guéant, Nicolas Sarkozy's former chief of staff and interior minister, one-time national police chief Michel Gaudin and three other top officials who worked for the ex-president are in court this week, accused of misappropriating public funds by receiving tens of thousands of euros in cash payments. The money was siphoned off from a ministerial fund supposed to pay for police investigations. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan reports.

Is the fight against corruption in France faltering?

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In the last week four cases of alleged corruption, fraud, abuse of position or negligence involving prominent figures in French society have ended with no one being punished. In two cases the defendants were acquitted, in another no sentence was passed, while in the investigation concerning former government minister and current head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, the prosecution said the case should be dropped. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan considers whether the French justice system is giving way when faced with certain high-profile political and financial cases – and if so, why.

The 1.6bn euro ocean road making waves on Réunion

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Le tronçon "viaduc" de la future route du littoral, à 100 mètres du rivage réunionnais © Région Réunion Le tronçon "viaduc" de la future route du littoral, à 100 mètres du rivage réunionnais © Région Réunion

Plans to build a new road on viaducts and massive seawalls around the coast of the French Indian Ocean island of Réunion have caused a major controversy. The 1.6 billion euro project faces a preliminary legal investigation for possible corruption and favouritism and is under fire for its impact on the environment, while financial watchdogs also warn the scheme risks facing a significant funding shortfall. Julien Sartre reports.

How Sarkozy helped key figure in election funding scandal flee Libya

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Nicolas Sarkozy, Bachir Saleh et Alexandre Djouhri © Reuters et DR Nicolas Sarkozy, Bachir Saleh et Alexandre Djouhri © Reuters et DR

Declassified reports from France's foreign intelligence service show how President Nicolas Sarkozy helped a senior figure in the Gaddafi regime escape from war-torn Libya in 2011, Mediapart can reveal. They show that Muammar Gaddafi's ex-chief of staff Bashir Saleh was taken to France in November 2011 with the aid of the French presidency and businessman Alexandre Djouhri. However, Saleh later fled France after Mediapart published details of a letter addressed to him outlining the Gaddafi regime's agreement to fund Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.

The political risks for Hollande as French mayors protest against cuts

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Mayors from across France have staged demonstrations against reduced funding from central government. However, the right-wing mayor who is behind the protests oversaw similar cuts in 2011 when he was budget minister. Meanwhile President Hollande, who is overseeing the current funding squeeze, opposed such moves when he was in opposition. But as Hubert Huertas argues, while there's more than a whiff of hypocrisy about the protests, they could nonetheless be damaging to the socialist government and the head of state himself.

Slovak president on migrants: 'We must show our solidarity'

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The Slovak government is officially opposed to the imposition of migrant quotas on European countries. However, in an interview with Mediapart the president of Slovakia, Andrej Kiska, insists that his country must “abandon” its current stance. “We are capable of doing more for refugees,” he declared, ahead of a meeting of EU interior ministers on Tuesday to discuss how migrants are to be shared between members states. Mathieu Magnaudeix reports.

An illustrated record of the macabre world of 'le 36', the Paris police HQ

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 © Titwane © Titwane

Once the backdrop to novelist Georges Simenon’s commissaire Jules Maigret, and now that of the gritty French TV series Spiral, the building that stands at number 36 quai des Orfèvres in central Paris is the longstanding home to several of the capital’s elite police investigation squads. French documentary filmmaker and writer Raynal Pellicer was given exceptional access to the workings of one of the grittiest of these, the serious crime squad, and, with the illustrator Titwane, this month publishes an unusual and painstakingly detailed book of sketches and text on the day-to-day reality of the officers' often macabre jobs. Louise Fessard reports.