France's west coast port cities of Bordeaux, La Rochelle and Le Havre followed in the footsteps of Nantes by amassing much of their wealth from the Atlantic slave trade. Yet unlike in Nantes, in these three cities this history remains largely forgotten or hidden from view. And as Lucie Delaporte reports, in the forthcoming local elections which take place on March 15th and March 22nd, neither current councillors nor many candidates seem much inclined to revive these painful memories.
The ruling Socialist Party is continuing its inexorable drift towards the centre ground of French politics. As Stéphane Alliès reports, prime minister Manuel Valls's key-note speech on Sunday to end its summer conference underlined the extent to which the party has turned its back on other parties of the Left and has instead become a “rallying call for progressives”.
Amid deepening divisions over government economic policy, France’s ruling Socialist Party held its annual end-of-summer conference this weekend at the port of La Rochelle, in south-west France, culminating with a much awaited speech by prime Minister Manuel Valls. The long-planned venue coincided with the government reshuffle earlier this week which saw the exit from the cabinet of party left-wingers, and notably the arrival of a former banker, Emmanuel Macron, as economy minister in replacement of the outspoken anti-austerity leftist Arnaud Montebourg. Valls, who earlier this week told a conference of the French employers’ federation of his “love” of business, was promised a fiery reception from the rebel Left of his party at his Sunday appearance. From a tense conference hall in La Rochelle, Stéphane Alliès reports on the address by Valls, who defiantly told a small group of journalists afterwards: “A speech will not be sufficient [...] but I’m continuing, I’m not giving up on anything.”
The fight against the far-right Front national was the central theme of the ruling Socialist Party's summer conference that took place at the weekend. Some on the Left fear that if they do not start campaigning now, Marine Le Pen's party could attract the largest share of the popular vote at next year’s European elections. However, as Lénaïg Bredoux reports, just what form the 'crusade' against extremism will take is still unclear.