Analysis

  • Why Macron's pensions reform push threatens a political time bomb

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    Emmanuel Macron, pictured at the Bastille Day parade in Paris on July 14th 2022. © Photo Jacques Witt / Pool / Abaca Emmanuel Macron, pictured at the Bastille Day parade in Paris on July 14th 2022. © Photo Jacques Witt / Pool / Abaca

    Nationwide strike action and mass demonstrations were held in France on Thursday in opposition to Emmanuel Macron’s reform of the French pensions system, which includes raising the age of retirement on full pension rights from 62 to 64. The government appears to hope that what its spokesman called the “weariness” of the population, amid galloping inflation and the hike in energy costs, will see the protests over its reform peter out. Ellen Salvi reports on how the president’s strategy has led to a weakening of public debate and a disintegration of social democracy, and why a victory for his reform would threaten to set a time bomb ticking in the ballot box.

  • How energy price crisis is putting the squeeze on French bakers

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    The organic bakery Racynes at Boulogne-Billancourt in the south-west suburbs of Paris, November 2022. © Photo Stéphane de Sakutin / AFP The organic bakery Racynes at Boulogne-Billancourt in the south-west suburbs of Paris, November 2022. © Photo Stéphane de Sakutin / AFP

    Not long ago, artisan bakers were doing well in France's villages, towns and city centres as Covid restrictions encouraged people to shop local. But that has all now changed with the cost of living crisis, as the rising price of energy and raw ingredients has put their finances under pressure. And with households also feeling the pinch from the cost of living squeeze, France's bakers say they cannot keep on putting up prices indefinitely in order to make ends meet. Mathias Thépot reports.


  • Why convicted French politicians nearly always escape going to jail

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    Convicted mayor Patrick Balkany leaving the La Santé prison in Paris, February 12th 2020. © Photo François Guillot / AFP Convicted mayor Patrick Balkany leaving the La Santé prison in Paris, February 12th 2020. © Photo François Guillot / AFP

    On Monday December 5th former French president Nicolas Sarkozy began an appeal hearing following his conviction for corruption in the so-called 'Paul Bismuth' or phone-tapping case. At the original trial the ex-head of state was given a jail sentence but has not served a single night in prison. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan explains why it is that French politicians who are convicted in corruption cases so very rarely serve jail time despite the heavy prison sentences that such offences can attract.

  • How France's glass-makers are broken by energy costs

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    Thousands of jobs in France’s glass-making industry are now under threat. © Photo Denis Charlet / AFP Thousands of jobs in France’s glass-making industry are now under threat. © Photo Denis Charlet / AFP

    Soaring energy costs have thrown the once flourishing glass-making industry in France into a crisis, and this has notably hit the small- and medium-sized businesses that account for an important part of its estimated 22,000-strong workforce. As glass-makers report a year-on-year quadrupling of their energy bills amid a parallel economic slowdown, some have been forced to shut down their ovens and to place staff on short-time working, and many now face the chilling prospect of not being able to survive the winter. Mathias Thépot reports.

  • French far-right seeks political gain from horror of girl's murder

    Flowers and tributes left in front of the Paris apartment building where Lola's body was found. © Geoffroy Van der Hasselt / AFP Flowers and tributes left in front of the Paris apartment building where Lola's body was found. © Geoffroy Van der Hasselt / AFP

    The shocking sequestration, rape and murder in Paris last week of Lola, a 12-year-old girl whose body was found in a trunk in front of her apartment building home, has been transformed by the far-right and conservative hardliners into a political row over immigration policy after it was revealed that the arrested suspect is a young Algerian woman who since August was the subject of an expulsion order. The controversy snowballed this week, forcing the government onto the defence despite an appeal by Lola’s parents that no political gain should be made of the atrocious crime. Lucie Delaporte and Christophe Gueugneau report.

  • Four key lessons from the series of coups d’état in West Africa

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    The Malian head of state Assimi Goïta, right, and the Guinea head of state Mamadi Doumbouya, left, both of whom came to power through a coup d’état, during a military parade on September 22nd, 2022, in the Mali capital Bamako. © Photo Ousmane Makaveli / AFP The Malian head of state Assimi Goïta, right, and the Guinea head of state Mamadi Doumbouya, left, both of whom came to power through a coup d’état, during a military parade on September 22nd, 2022, in the Mali capital Bamako. © Photo Ousmane Makaveli / AFP

    The seizure of power by Captain Ibrahim Traoré in Burkina Faso on September 30th brings to five the number of successful coups d’état that have taken place in West Africa in the last two years. One of the main reasons for these coups has been the failure of the fight against terrorism in the Sahel region, which has led to growing insecurity. Another factor is the increasing role of Russia there. Justine Brabant reports.

  • When Macron sent a twice-convicted man to represent France at Abe’s funeral

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    Nicolas Sarkozy greeted in Tokyo by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, September 27th 2022. © Photo Hiro Komae / pool / AFP Nicolas Sarkozy greeted in Tokyo by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, September 27th 2022. © Photo Hiro Komae / pool / AFP

    At the request of Emmanuel Macron, Nicolas Sarkozy travelled to Tokyo to represent France at the state funeral on Tuesday of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe. That was despite the fact that the former French president has two convictions, and notably one for corruption, and that he is currently placed under investigation for “criminal conspiracy”, “corruption”, “illicit campaign financing” and “receiving the proceeds of the misappropriation of public funds” in relation to the alleged Libyan funding of his 2007 election campaign. Fabrice Arfi and Ilyes Ramdani report.

  • Macron, Algeria and his vision of the role of the media

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    Emmanuel Macron in the Disco Maghreb store in Oran, Algeria, August 27th 2022. © Photo Ludovic Marin/AFP Emmanuel Macron in the Disco Maghreb store in Oran, Algeria, August 27th 2022. © Photo Ludovic Marin/AFP

    Le Monde newspaper recently depublished an opinion article about Algeria that had attracted the ire of President Emmanuel Macron. As Mediapart's Joseph Confavreux says in this analysis piece, this was not a one-off example of the Élysée confusing journalism with public relations. As he explains, a number of academics, politicians and journalists are concerned about the way the presidency appears to be systematically equating the two.

  • Why even some of Macron's allies are wary of his new flagship body to reform France

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    Emmanuel Macron at the Élysée Palace, September 5th 2022. © Photo Ludovic Marin / AFP Emmanuel Macron at the Élysée Palace, September 5th 2022. © Photo Ludovic Marin / AFP

    This Thursday September 8th the French president inaugurated his new national council designed to debate potential reforms for his second term of office. However, the launch of the Conseil National de la Refondation, as it is called, has simply highlighted the difficulties and challenges facing Emmanuel Macron's presidency following his re-election in April: its scope is vague, the opposition has refused to take part and even his own political camp has found it hard to muster much enthusiasm for the initiative. Analysis by Ilyes Ramdani.

  • How a German army designed not to fight now aims to be 'biggest NATO force in Europe'

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    A German soldier returns after the Bundeswehr left  Afghanistan. © Hauke-Christian Dittrich / AFP A German soldier returns after the Bundeswehr left Afghanistan. © Hauke-Christian Dittrich / AFP

    The German military or 'Bundeswehr' is under-equipped, used only for deployment in other parts of the world and is currently incapable of defending its own territory. In essence, the army in post-reunification Germany was designed for peace - not war. Now the conflict in Ukraine and the threat from Russia have changed all that and authorities in Berlin are planning to build the “biggest conventional European army within NATO”. Thomas Schnee reports from Berlin about Germany's shift away from pacifism.