Analysis

  • How Nicolas Hulot resignation completes bad summer for President Macron

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    Nicolas Hulot and President Emmanuel Macron in October 2017. © Reuters Nicolas Hulot and President Emmanuel Macron in October 2017. © Reuters

    The Benalla affair, which involved the French president's security aide, caused political damage to Emmanuel Macron at the start of France's summer break. The head of state hoped that the post-holiday resumption of political daily life would allow him to regain control of events. But following the shock resignation of his high-profile environment minister Nicolas Hulot, and with economic growth in France set to be lower than forecast this year, Macron seems once again at the mercy of events. Ellen Salvi analyses the French president's woes.

  • The Catholic fundamentalists in the shadows of France's far-right

    By Nicolas Lebourg
    Civitas chairman Alain Escada (centre) at a protest in front of the French parliament against the introduction of the same-sex marriage law, January 2013. © Reuters Civitas chairman Alain Escada (centre) at a protest in front of the French parliament against the introduction of the same-sex marriage law, January 2013. © Reuters

    A party of Catholic fundamentalists, Civitas is one of France’s lesser-known far-right movements, overshadowed by the former Front National (now renamed the National Rally) led by Marine Le Pen. It wants to ban abortion, same-sex marriage and freemasonry, to repeal a 1905 law separating the Church and State and also anti-racist legislation, and takes as its model the regimes of General Franco in Spain and General Pinochet in Chile. After years as a pressure group, it officially became a political party in 2016, and this month held its annual summer conference on the theme of “Human rights versus the real country”. Here, historian Nicolas Lebourg traces its history and analyses its future prospects.

  • How the fall of Gaddafi destabilised Mali

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    Security checks as voters line up in Mali's capital Bamako on Sunday. © Reuters Security checks as voters line up in Mali's capital Bamako on Sunday. © Reuters

    The first round of presidential elections was held last Sunday in Mali, the former French colony in West Africa which has become a key centre of the battle, led by France, against jihadist groups operating in the Sahel. Outgoing president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, 73, hoping for re-election, is roundly attacked by his rivals for having failed to bring security to the country, despite France’s military intervention against jihadists in 2013 and the continued presence of thousands of UN peacekeepers. In this analysis of the enduring instability in Mali, Rémi Carayol details how it was fuelled by the toppling of the Gaddafi regime in Libya.

  • Tunisia faces double migrant squeeze as its citizens head for Europe

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    A 2017 report showing the breakdown in ages of Tunisians seeking to leave the country clandestinely. © dr A 2017 report showing the breakdown in ages of Tunisians seeking to leave the country clandestinely. © dr

    Migration has fashioned Tunisia for over two decades, most notably after the uprising that sparked the Arab Spring in 2011, when tens of thousands left a country riddled with unemployment and inequality once old restrictions were lifted. Now Tunisia finds itself in a double bind. It is resisting pressure to house migrants from other African countries trying to reach Europe via its territory, even as a new exodus of its own citizens gathers pace, prompted by economic, political and social distress. Rachida El Azzouzi reports.

  • Macron launches reform of 'moth-eaten' welfare system

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    Emmanuel Macron speaking in Montpellier, June 13th 2018. © DR Emmanuel Macron speaking in Montpellier, June 13th 2018. © DR

    French President Emmanuel Macron this week presented a broad outline of a future reform of the country’s welfare system, in a speech to a congress of health insurance companies. Beyond an announcement of measures to facilitate access to certain types of healthcare and boost the prevention of illness, Macron said the current welfare system, which he described as “moth-eaten”, was a failed model, but insisted the solutions to its problems “cannot be budgetary”. Attacking poverty, he said, can only succeed by making people “responsible” for their lives. Manuel Jardinaud analyses the president’s speech and concludes that behind the catchphrases and carefully avoided issues emerges Macron’s strategy for the dismantling of France’s cherished social protection system.

  • How France's anti-fake news law in fact threatens the truth

    By and
    The 'Macron Leaks' data dump came 48 hours before Emmanuel Macron faced the final contest against far-right leader Marine Le Pen. © Reuters The 'Macron Leaks' data dump came 48 hours before Emmanuel Macron faced the final contest against far-right leader Marine Le Pen. © Reuters

    The French government has drafted legislation, dubbed the “anti-fake news law”, aimed at combatting the proliferation of false information during election campaigns. It was prompted by a mass data dump of confidential emails and fake documents relating to Emmanuel Macron and his campaign staff shortly before the final round of last year’s presidential elections, which became known as the “Macron Leaks”. The bill, which would empower judges to order the de-publication of information ruled to be fake, and even to block foreign media in France, has created such controversy that the parliamentary debates have now been postponed until later this summer to allow for more than 200 amendments to be considered. Here, Fabrice Arfi and Antton Rouget argue why the new legislation, if it becomes law, would in fact severely curb the freedom of the press, as in fact demonstrated by the very history of the “Macron Leaks”.

  • Study finds inequality in France remained stable during economic crisis

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    The French national institute of statistics and economic studies, INSEE, this week published its yearly report on the wealth and income of households in France. This latest study concerns 2015, and demonstrates that inequalities in living standards actually fell slightly in the seven-year period after the outbreak of the financial and economic crises. Romaric Godin reports.

  • Serge Dassault: a symbol of French-style capitalism

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    Serge Dassault in 1999 posing next to a Rafale jet at the Le Bourget air show north of Paris. © Reuters Serge Dassault in 1999 posing next to a Rafale jet at the Le Bourget air show north of Paris. © Reuters

    Serge Dassault, who died on May 28th, 2018, at the age of 93, was a billionaire industrialist in the aviation sector, a former Senator and mayor, and the owner of the conservative daily newspaper Le Figaro. Prevented from having a major role the family business empire until the death of his father, Serge Dassault was driven by ambition and the desire to surpass what Marcel Dassault achieved. But despite his undoubted business successes, Serge Dassault's own legacy was tarnished by corruption affairs and allegations of buying votes, and he was convicted of tax fraud in 2017. Mediapart's Yann Philippin, who has spent many years reporting on the 'Dassault method', reports.

  • Why failed 1961 coup d'état is still relevant to France today

    By Nicolas Lebourg

    This spring has inevitably seen lots of attention devoted to the 50th anniversary of the events of May 1968 in France and the accompanying social upheaval. Largely forgotten, however, is another springtime event dating from just a few years before – the failed coup attempt by French generals in Algiers on April 21st, 1961. Yet as historian Nicolas Lebourg points out, the way France's secret services and police handled that plot and its aftermath has important lessons for current events in France.

  • Democracy under 'Macronism' - the dangers of complacency

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    Does President Emmanuel Macron's approach to government encourage the confusion of public and private interests? Does President Emmanuel Macron's approach to government encourage the confusion of public and private interests?

    Two current affairs sum up the nature of 'Macronism', the approach to government adopted by the French president Emmanuel Macron since his election in May 2017. One involves his chief of staff at the Élysée and claims that he faces a clear conflict of interests between the public and private sectors, the other concerns the hefty discounts that the Macron campaign received on various campaign services during the presidential election. Both stories highlight the same problem: the failure of France's watchdogs to adequately monitor public life. Fabrice Arfi reports.