A report released this month by an independent research body on social exclusion calculates that up to one million more people in France fell below the poverty line between 2005 and 2015. While the financial and economic crisis is largely responsible, the slight recovery of growth has had little, if any, effect on easing the numbers of poor, one third of who are children. Laurent Mauduit analyses the data.
In 2012 the Left attracted its biggest shares of votes in the presidential election from the poorest sectors of society. But after François Hollande's presidency that support has dwindled. In the regional elections in 2015 this electorate turned instead towards the far-right Front National, headed by Marine Le Pen. The signs are that large numbers of France's poorest voters will also back Le Pen in the first round of the presidential election in April. Academic and Front National specialist Nonna Mayer analyses the figures.
In its latest study on household income and capital, France's statistical agency INSEE notes that the median standard of living in France fell by 1.1% between 2008 and 2013, a drop not seen since records began in 1996. For the 10% worst-off families the fall was even greater, with their income falling by 3.5%. The agency writes of an “unprecedented worsening of poverty in France”. Laurent Mauduit reports.
Almost a third of the 60,000 population of Vénissieux, close to France’s second-largest city Lyon, in south-east France, live under the poverty line. Every year, its mayor, Michèle Picard, signs municipal decrees to prevent the ordered evictions of dozens of families from their homes, and the cutting off of water and energy supplies to hundreds of others. The decrees are just as regularly challenged in court by the local state authorities of the prefecture, which habitually find favour from the presiding magistrates. This week Picard was back in court to defend her case, just as a new series of evictions get underway. Michaël Hajdenberg reports.
The charity Oxfam recently sounded the alarm about an explosion in wealth inequality across the world. Academic Patrick Savidan says that France, which once resisted this trend, is now in the same boat as other developed nations as the gap between wealthiest and poorest grows wider. Savidan, who co-founded a commission to monitor inequality, explains in an interview with Mediapart's Dan Israel that while the rich have long been getting richer in France, the latest development is that the poor are now getting poorer too.
On Monday July 7th the French government began the third of its so-called 'social conferences' in which employer and worker representatives debate plans to tackle the country’s social and economic problems. At stake this time is President François Hollande's much-vaunted but controversial 'Responsibility Pact' aimed at giving a 40-billion-euro incentive to the country's bosses to hire staff and thus cut the jobless total. Here Mediapart looks at the main economic and social indicators which all illustrate the challenges faced by the government; rising unemployment, growing poverty and financial hardship, and the destruction of industrial jobs. Yannick Sanchez and Thomas Saint-Cricq report.
According to many financial experts, last year marked a turning point in which the world finally began to put the financial crisis behind it. But if 2013 was the year when stock and property markets recovered to pre-crisis levels, it was also a period when the gap between the super rich and everyone else widened to levels not seen for practically a century. In the United States, as much as half of national income went to the very rich, a concentration of wealth last seen in 1917. In Europe poverty has made a comeback, and the most disadvantaged are scrambling to feed themselves and their families. Martine Orange reports.
A discount bakery has opened in southern France which only sells day-old leftovers - a novelty for a country which prides itself on freshness.
This week a major national conference has been taking place to highlight the crippling level of poverty on France, which affects around 8.6 million people. Ministers, officials, trade unions representatives and workers from local voluntary associates have been meeting to thrash out a plan of action. Mediapart's Rachida El Azzouzi travelled to Calais in north-west France to see the reality of poverty at first hand. In one area of the town she found that all that is handed down from generation to generation is poverty and unemployment.
President Hollande to call for a single programme for tackling poverty and promoting sustainable development at this week's Rio+20 Earth summit.
Until now, slumlords operating in the poor suburban neighbourhoods surrounding Paris have notoriously escaped legal action through a combination of inertia on the part of local authorities, the fear and lack of alternative accommodation on the part of tenants, and the phantom-like existence of these cash-paid proprietors. But two suburban town halls, in Clichy-sous-Bois and Gennevilliers, have now undertaken a vigorous combat against slum property owners, and are succeeding in bringing them to court. Ellen Salvi reports on a case heard earlier this month, and which reveals a tale of desperate squalor and exploitation that is the daily predicament of thousands living around the capital.
French NGO Médecins du Monde (MdM), which provides healthcare to the needy across the globe, originally opened its clinic in Athens to provide help for destitute immigrants and asylum seekers. But now the debt crisis has changed all that. Suddenly, its free-of-charges medical centre has seen a dramatic influx of Greek patients, who include public sector workers, former small business owners, young mothers, the elderly and rising numbers of the homeless, all unable to pay standard medical fees. "Some are so ashamed that they speak in English to pass off as migrants," explains Christina Samartzi, head of MdM's programme in Greece, in this interview with Carine Fouteau. "They are desperate, without hope," adds Samartzi, "they think that things are only going to get worse."
A quarter of a million people in France are homeless, or live in precarious living conditions according to a report published this month by the French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies, while another 2.9 million live in "uncomfortable" accomodation. Mediapart's Elodie Berthaud has travelled France meeting with students, tradesmen, unemployed and seasonal workers who have reached the last rung of the social ladder.