France's frail and fragile democracy

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Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump during the G7 at Biarritz, south-west France, August 25th 2019. © Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump during the G7 at Biarritz, south-west France, August 25th 2019. © Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS

The reaction to Donald Trump's behaviour and the attempts at impeachment highlights the vitality of democratic culture in the United States when faced with executive abuse of power. In contrast, argues Mediapart publishing editor Edwy Plenel, France is served by a low-intensity democracy that has been undermined by the country's system of presidential monarchy.

How French warplanes sold to Egypt helped Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar

A French-made Egyptian air force Rafale fighter plane taking off as part of an air raid in Libya in 2017. A French-made Egyptian air force Rafale fighter plane taking off as part of an air raid in Libya in 2017.

In April 2019 the self-styled 'Field Marshal' Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive against the regime in Tripoli which is acknowledged by the international community as Libya's legitimate government. Yet during his recent military campaign to control the east of the country, the warlord has had the discreet help of several important allies, including France. And as Yann Philippin, René Backmann and Antton Rouget report, Haftar also received air support from French-made Rafale jets which had been sold to Egypt.

Jacques Chirac: an obsession with power

Jacques and Bernadette Chirac on a visit to Sarran in the Corrèze in central France in 1993. © Reuters Jacques and Bernadette Chirac on a visit to Sarran in the Corrèze in central France in 1993. © Reuters

The former French president Jacques Chirac died on September 26th, at the age of 86. Chirac, who was head of state from 1995 to 2007, and who had previously been prime minister of France and mayor of Paris, leaves behind him 40 years of political combat. But his political legacy is a modest one, the leftover of a career built upon the sole ambition of gaining and clinging on to power. That came at the cost of incessant political trench warfare, alliances and counter-alliances, betrayals and scandals, while blithely shifting positions to court popularity. Mediapart charts the key episodes that mark the political life of a man obsessed with power.

Former French president Jacques Chirac dies at 86

Jacques Chirac in December 2010. © Reuters Jacques Chirac in December 2010. © Reuters

Former French president Jacques Chirac, the Gaullist conservative who served two terms as head of state and twice as prime minister, who was for 18 years mayor of Paris and who was convicted of corruption after leaving office, has died at the age of 86. Graham Tearse reports.

Why new 'anti-White racism' ideology is the legacy of ignoring France's colonial question

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The notion of 'anti-White racism' is an ideological construct aimed at downplaying the systemic, social and cultural racism endured by black people and people of North African origin in France. Mediapart publishing editor Edwy Plenel says that its emergence in public debate is a sign of how France has failed to face up to the issue of colonialism, to both its long past and its persistence today.

The whistleblowing doctor who took on French pharma giant over 'killer' drug

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Pulmonologist Irène Frachon who exposed the devastating effects of the drug Mediator. © Charles Platiau/Reuters Pulmonologist Irène Frachon who exposed the devastating effects of the drug Mediator. © Charles Platiau/Reuters

A trial opened in Paris on Monday centred on one of France’s biggest-ever pharmaceutical scandals, so vast and involving so many people that it is expected to last up to seven months. French pharmaceutical firm Servier is accused of hiding the killer side effects of its drug Mediator, a treatment for type-2 diabetes patients, but which was widely prescribed as an appetite suppressant. Up to 2,000 patients are estimated to have died from pulmonary and heart disease caused by Mediator, the dangers of which the drug safety authorities, several of whose members are also standing trial, turned a blind eye to. The scandal was revealed ten years ago by pulmonologist Irène Frachon, whose dogged investigations have seen her ostracised by many in the medical establishment. She talks about her campaign and its aftermath in this interview with Rozenn Le Saint.

Prosecutor recommends former French PM and minister stand trial for alleged corruption scam

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Édouard Balladur (centre) in 1995 with François Léotard (right) and Nicolas Sarkozy. © Reuters Édouard Balladur (centre) in 1995 with François Léotard (right) and Nicolas Sarkozy. © Reuters

Senior public prosecutor François Molins has concluded that former French prime minister Édouard Balladur and the defence minister who served under him, François Léotard, should be sent for trial for siphoning payments from public weapons contracts with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to fund Balladur’s presidential election campaign. Molins’s formal recommendations follow a lengthy judicial investigation into what has become known in France as “the Karachi affair”, a complex and far-reaching alleged corruption scam which surfaced after the murders of 11 French naval engineers in the Pakistani port city in 2002.

Revealed: Lionel Messi and his father in new alleged tax scam

By , Begoña Perez Ramírez (Infolibre) and EIC
Lionel Messi beside his father Jorge during their trial on tax fraud charges in Barcelona in June 2016. © Reuters Lionel Messi beside his father Jorge during their trial on tax fraud charges in Barcelona in June 2016. © Reuters

Documents obtained from the whistleblowing platform Football Leaks reveal a financial structure that Spanish tax authorities suspect was used to hide part of the remunerations paid to FC Barcelona star player Lionel Messi, already convicted of tax fraud in 2016 along with his father Jorge Messi. The documents detail how the latter received 6.7 million euros from the Catalan club via a Luxembourg bank account belonging to a shell company registered in London.

The French-made warships blockading Yemen's starving population

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The French-built Saudi frigate Al-Dammam 816, in May 2014. © US Navy The French-built Saudi frigate Al-Dammam 816, in May 2014. © US Navy

Video evidence that warships sold by France to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have played an active role in the maritime blockade of Yemen, contributing to the starvation of millions of civilians in what the UN has described as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, has emerged in an investigation partnered by Mediapart. Meanwhile, a UN report earlier this month warned that the legality of arms exports to belligerents in the conflict in Yemen by countries including France, Britain and the US “remains questionable”, and that “states may be held responsible for providing aid or assistance for the commission of international law violations”. Antton Rouget and Yann Philippin report.

How French far-right eyes local election gains

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French far-right leader Marine Le Pen casting her vote in the May 2019 European Parliament elections. © Reuters French far-right leader Marine Le Pen casting her vote in the May 2019 European Parliament elections. © Reuters

The French far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party, the renamed Front National, held its post-summer congress this weekend in the south-east town of Fréjus, when its leader Marine Le Pen set out the party’s policies ahead of municipal elections to be held across the country in six months’ time. The RN, which won the majority of votes cast in France in European Parliament elections in May, hopes to at last solidly establish itself at a local level, amid a fragmented political landscape in the country and notably the collapse of the conservatives. In this interview with Lucie Delaporte, French political scientist Sylvain Crépon, a specialist of far-right politics, analyses the party’s new strategy for the elections.

This shameful Europe

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The newly appointed European Commission, whose members take up their posts on November 1st, is to include a vice-president responsible for migration and home affairs with the title of “Protecting our European Way of Life”. Mediapart’s publishing editor Edwy Plenel argues here that this semantic choice is a shameful concession to the continent’s far-right, whereby issues of identity have overturned social demands.

Result of probe into Air France Rio-Paris crash outrages victims' families

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A Brazilian navy ship retrieves debris from Air France flight AF447 found on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, June 9th 2009.

Ten years after the crash over the Atlantic Ocean of Air France flight AF447, in which all 228 passengers and crew aboard the Airbus 330 were killed, the French judicial investigation into the events has finally closed, without charges. The magistrates in charge of the probe have controversially exonerated the airline and Airbus of any responsibility for the disaster, which it instead placed firmly on the flight crew. The September 5th ruling has outraged relatives of the victims, who have accused the investigation of buckling before “the aeronautical lobby”, and who have now lodged an appeal to re-open the investigation. Mediapart has obtained access to the case file which, as Yann Philippin reports, contains numerous elements which contradict the magistrates’ findings.

'Corrupt' electoral system of late French billionaire Serge Dassault to go on trial

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Serge Dassault in 2016. © Reuters Serge Dassault in 2016. © Reuters

Seven members of an allegedly corrupt electoral system put in place by the well-known billionaire industrialist Serge Dassault in a town south-east of Paris, including the current mayor, are to stand trial. Ordering the court hearing, investigating judge Serge Tournaire referred to an “unprecedented” level of election corruption, including vote-buying. Mediapart's Yann Philippin, who has co-written a book on the subject, reports on how the details of what has been dubbed the “Dassault System” are finally to be heard in a courtroom.

Truth behind former Macron minister's summer media campaign to clear his name

Ex-minister François de Rugy seeks to clear his name on BFM TV, July 29th 2019. © DR Ex-minister François de Rugy seeks to clear his name on BFM TV, July 29th 2019. © DR

A string of revelations from Mediapart about his lifestyle and use of public money led to the resignation of François de Rugy, environment minister and number two in the French government, on July 16th 2019. Since then the former minister has been on a PR offensive, helped by friends in the media, seeking to prove that his name has subsequently been “cleared” and that Mediapart's revelations had been “refuted”. This is obviously untrue. Fabrice Arfi, Michaël Hajdenberg, Antton Rouget and Marine Turchi look back over the facts of the case.

Gendarmes still struggle to predict future crime despite new software

By Alexandre Léchenet

Gendarmes in Frances have been testing algorithmic software to see if it will help them predict patterns of offences in their areas and thus help them to cut crime. Despite the claims made for the software, analysis by Mediapart suggests that it has had limited effect, far removed from how it is portrayed in science fiction. Nonetheless, as Alexandre Léchenet reports, the crime 'predicting' tool has now been rolled out for general use by gendarmes across France.