Bruno Retailleau

French government embroiled in row over faith-based election candidate lists

France— Analysis

Right-wing politicians want religion-based election candidates lists to be banned in France. This comes after a group calling itself the Union of French Muslim Democrats stood in this year's European elections, in which it won just 0.13% of the popular vote. Some members of the government are said to be tempted by the idea of a ban, but President Emmanuel Macron has rejected this approach. Instead, Ellen Salvi reports, he is looking at other possible avenues, including extending the religious neutrality that civil servants have to observe to elected representatives.

Nice little earner: right-wing French senators get 8,000-euro Christmas 'tip'

France— Investigation

It was their secret. Every Christmas from 2003 to 2014, the venerable senators belonging to former French President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party, recently renamed Les Républicains, received a hand-out of around 8,000 euros per person on the quiet, on top of their ample salaries and expenses. It was described by the senators themselves as their annual tip or 'Christmas box'. Now the new chairman of their Senate group has decided to put an end to the practice. Mathilde Mathieu reports on yet another example of the Senate gravy-train, which emerges amid a continuing judicial investigation into suspected money laundering and misuse of public funds by the UMP Senate group.

The lucrative musical chairs within the French Senate

France— Investigation

In the French Senate, it appears that crossing a courtyard can be a lucrative affair. Mediapart has learnt how the secretary general of the upper house’s conservative UMP party group of senators was given 173,000 euros, paid out of publicly-provided funds, as an indemnity payment for losing his job, and just weeks before taking up another post with the Senate’s president, UMP party member Gérard Larcher. Mathilde Mathieu reports on the latest example of the gravy-train lifestyle enjoyed at the Senate, whose UMP party group is at the centre of an ongoing judicial investigation into suspected money laundering and misuse of public funds.    

French court bans Christmas nativity scene on council premises

France— Link

Judge ruled that it was a 'religious emblem' and therefore incompatible with the French principle of 'religious neutrality in public spaces'.