Why SPD election victory in Germany is no new dawn for Europe’s social democrats

International — Analysis

Germany’s social democrat SPD party came first in the country’s parliamentary elections on September 26th, garnering just more than a quarter of votes cast. It places the centre-left party in prime position to form a new coalition government, which would see Olaf Scholz, the party’s candidate for chancellor, succeed the outgoing Angela Merkel. But, writes Fabien Escalona in this analysis of the wider implications of the election, the knife-edge victory of the once moribund SPD is very much a relative one, and is far from auguring a resurgence of the social democrat movement in Europe, despite similarly fragile recent wins in Nordic countries.

Greek elections: the before and after Syriza, in nine portraits

Portfolio — 9 photos

The general elections in Greece on Sunday returned the conservative New Democracy party to power in a landslide victory, ending the four-year coalition government led by the leftwing Syriza party of prime minister Alexis Tsipras. Syriza, once an outsider radical-left party, first gained power in January 2015 when Greece was socially and economically devastated by six years of a financial crisis that centred on the country’s snowballing debts, and which led to brutal and humiliating bailout conditions imposed by international institutions, chiefly the eurozone group and the IMF. At the time, Mediapart travelled to Greece to dress the portraits of nine men and women differently affected by the crisis, and in May this year, shortly before Tsipras called the snap general elections, returned to ask them about their current situations and how they judged the four-year term of the Syriza government. Their accounts here offer an insight into Sunday’s election result and the turnout of just under 60%, the second-lowest of any Greek general election.

European elections: how they work and what's at stake

International — Analysis

The results of this month’s European Parliament elections, which in France and 21 other countries are to be held today, will be a key test of political parties across the continent, where anti-EU, nationalist and populist groups have been gaining ground on traditional parties. For French President Emmanuel Macron, whose LREM party, strongly pro-EU, is fighting European elections for the first time, the outcome on Sunday will also be a test of the credibility of his ambitions for the bloc. But the polling also lifts the curtain on a series of new appointments to lead the EU’s major institutions, which will hang on the results. Ludovic Lamant presents a guide to how the elections work, and the detail of what’s at stake.    

How France's far-right RN party plans enriching its supporters out of public funds

France — Investigation

To fund its campaign for this month’s European Parliament elections, the French far-right Rassemblement National party (the renamed Front National) has raised around 4 million euros through so-called “patriotic” loans from its members and supporters, to who it has promised a 5% interest rate. The party will submit the amounts raised, with interest, in its application for a post-election refund of campaign spending that is granted to parties and paid out of the public purse. The generous interest payments paid to its lending members and supporters will cost the taxpayer around 200,000 euros, and the party says it plans employing the same strategy in future elections. Marine Turchi reports.

Macron party and far-right lead in European elections surveys

France — Link

Opinion polls are giving France's far-right Rassemblement National party (the former Front National) a short lead over President Emmanuel Macron's LREM party in the run-up to European Parliament (EP) elections on May 26th, while both are way ahead of the 31 other party lists, which are the most ever seen in EP elections in France.

France's 'yellow vests' to field candidates in European elections

France — Link

Following two months of nationwide protests as a loosely formed movement communicating mostly on social media, the so-called 'yellow vests', made up of low- and middle-income earners angry at falling living standards and against the political and social elite, have formed a group to field candidates for this spring's elections for the European Parliament.

Macron facing the scenario of a return to the urns

France — Analysis

No French president or prime minister over the past 50 years has survived a political crisis like that in which Emmanuel Macron has become engulfed with the ‘gilets jaunes’ – Yellow Vest – movement, which is calling for improved living conditions for low- and middle-income earners, and increased participation of citizens in political decision making. In this analysis of the crisis, François Bonnet argues why Macron, in order to save his five-year term in office, appears to have little other choice than to return to the urns.

Paris mayor faces tough battle as rivals circle a divided City Hall


The deputy mayor of Paris, Bruno Julliard, this week resigned from his post in a blistering attack on the French capital’s socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo, for who Julliard had previously been a close political ally. It was the latest significant blow for Hidalgo who hopes to be re-elected to the prestigious and politically strategic post in 2020. In this detailed report, Pauline Graulle and Ellen Salvi went behind the scenes at the Paris City Hall to hear from insiders their divided opinions on Hidalgo’s management of the riverside Hôtel de Ville, which increasingly appears like a ship taking on water.     

Election observer missions tainted by 'sexual predators'

International — Investigation

More allegations of international aid workers’ sexual exploitation of the vulnerable people they are assigned to help were revealed last week in a mothballed United Nations report into the extent of an alleged ‘food for sex’ scandal involving numerous NGOs. The Times report followed revelations earlier this year by the paper about how Oxfam covered up evidence that its staff were involved in sex parties with prostitutes during operations in quake-devastated Haiti. But the scandalous behaviour of some involved in worthy international missions is not limited to the humanitarian sphere, as revealed by Fabien Offner in this report into the allegations of the conduct of staff involved in election monitoring missions, and in particular that of some EU election observers in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006.

Former French PM Valls mulls bid to become mayor of Barcelona

International — Link

Former socialist prime minister of France, Manuel Valls, 55, has told Spanish media that he is mulling becoming a candidate in mayoral elections next year in Barcelona, where he was born, when he would run as representative of Spain's centre-right Ciudadanos party which is opposed to Catalan independence.  

German intelligence document reports Iraq approved funding of Mitterrand campaign

International — Investigation

In 1974, the Ba’ath party regime in power in Iraq approved a payment of 1 million dollars to fund the presidential election campaign that year of the late French socialist leader François Mitterrand, according to a document from the intelligence services of the former West Germany, the BND, obtained by Mediapart and German weekly Der Spiegel. The document refers to an intercepted message sent by Baghdad to its embassy in Paris. While it is not known whether Mitterrand’s campaign ever benefited from the reportedly earmarked funds, the BND document raises further questions about the extent of Iraq’s established close and secret relations with French political parties of Left and Right over several decades. Amélie Poinssot reports.

French Polynesia pro-independence leader slams nuclear test legacy

International — Link

Oscar Temaru, campaigning ahead of independence elections in April, has said it was scandalous that France knew about the risks posed to the local population by the 193 nuclear test blasts cordered by Paris in French Polynesia between 1966 and 1996, and demanded that France assume responsibility for the former workers at Moruroa who are now seeking compensation.

Corsican nationalists gain control of new local assembly

France — Link

Elections to decide the makeup of a new regional assembly on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica have resulted in a resounding win for an alliance of nationalists who want greater powers of autonomy and the introduction of preferential treatment for locals, such as in access to housing. 

Corsican nationalists surge in first round of French election

France — Link

Group led by autonomist leader Gilles Simeoni won 45.36% of the votes for newly-created, more powerful local assembly on French island.

Macron party tipped for strong parliamentary majority

France — Link

Newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron's fledgling centrist party is tipped by polling organisations to win between 375 and 415 parliamentary seats out of a total of 577 at the end of France's two-round legislative elections which begin on Sunday.