While attention in France and elsewhere in the world last week was mainly focused on the presidential race between President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney, there were also many Congressional contests taking place across the United States. An investigation has revealed that a number of French groups were involved in funding candidates at those elections. Officially the fund-raising was carried out by American employees of those French businesses rather than the firms themselves. But, curiously, these staff members tended to favour Congressional candidates who were close to their own company's interests. Martine Orange reports.
Early December, the Left majority in the French Senate passed a bill to give non-EU nationals the right to vote and to stand as candidates for the position of councilor in local, municipal elections. The bill stands no chance of becoming law before the 2012 presidential and legislative elections, as it would require adoption by the current Right-majority in parliament's lower house, and the approval of President Nicolas Sarkozy. But a Socialist Party victory in next year's polls could see the bill finally introduced as law, ending several decades of campaigning, notably by representatives of France's large North African immigrant community. Carine Fouteau met with Hocine Taleb, a 32 year-old Algerian who runs a youth association in a Paris suburb, who explains his anger and frustration at being excluded from local decision-making.
After tortuous negotiations, France's Green party last weekend finally ratified an electoral pact drawn up with the Socialist Party which centres on a steep reduction in nuclear power production and the development of renewable energy sources. The agreement, which has triggered alarm bells in the French nuclear industry, seals an alliance between both parties for the legislative elections that will immediately follow next year's presidential poll. Jade Lindgaard examines the facts and figures behind the programme to reduce nuclear energy production, and reports on the last-minute political high drama that came close to leaving it stillborn.
Tensions are running high in Ivory Coast, where Laurent Gbagbo, the incumbent president defeated in November elections is refusing to hand over power to his newly-elected rival Alassane Ouattara. A delegation of African leaders returned to the country Monday January 3rd to persuade Gbagbo to quit, amid reports they are offering him an amnesty in exchange. If he refuses, West African states have warned they will employ force to oust him. We report from a spot just outside the economic capital Abidjan, where a divided population feverishly await the next development in the crisis.
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