Analysis

  • President Macron plays waiting game in long-awaited TV interview

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    In his first set-piece television interview since becoming France's president in May, Emmanuel Macron was in unrepentant mood, refusing to apologise over a string of controversial remarks which he now claims have been misunderstood. Speaking on the privately-owned TF1 television station, the centrist president also said the country would have to wait for up to two years for his reforms to take effect. Hubert Huertas analyses President Macron's much-anticipated television appearance.

  • French plans to tax online giants face real-world obstacles

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    France is spearheading a plan to tax the turnover of internet giants that manage to avoid paying corporate taxes on profits in European countries where they operate. But despite its bold appearance, and the backing of seven other countries, the plan is beset by political and highly technical problems. And even at this embryonic stage it has little chance of succeeding, writes Romaric Godin.

  • Senate elections show limits to Macron's political land grab

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    The chamber of the French Senate. © Reuters The chamber of the French Senate. © Reuters

    The events of last weekend have been revealing about the state of French politics and the balance of political power. The elections for the Senate, in which the Right consolidated its position in France's upper chamber, showed the limits and weakness of President Emmanuel Macron's government. At the same time the relatively modest turnout for a protest march in Paris organised by the radical left La France Insoumise highlighted the lack of major political opposition. But as Hubert Huertas says, this does not mean that opposition to the government's measures has melted away.

  • France's rights ombudsman slams abuses of benefits fraud crackdown

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    Successive French governments have made a priority of the issue of social benefits fraud, which is recurrently a popular subject for politicians of all sides during election campaigns, and also for some sections of the media. But a report this month by France’s official ombudsman for the protection of citizens’ rights reveals that while the true cost of benefits fraud is often grossly overestimated, benefits agencies are engaged in such a zealous crackdown that many innocent people, most often the poorest in society, have been cheated of their rightful allowances, and ordered to make backpayments on false pretences. Mediapart political commentator Hubert Huertas details the findings of the report.

  • President Macron's trio of thorny problems as new political year begins

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    Facing problems: President Emmanuel Macron. Facing problems: President Emmanuel Macron.

    The first series of the Macron show has come to an end. Now, as the political world returns after the summer break, the show threatens to become more of a (grim) reality TV series. President Macron is confronted by three main issues: his economic policy is right-wing, many of his key measures are unpopular and he lacks heavyweight communicators in his party's ranks. As a result the new head of state seems set to change his communication strategy and get more involved in the fray. Mediapart's editor François Bonnet reports.

  • Macron takes on the press with move to sue paparazzi

    Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte in a staged photo shoot during his election campaign. Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte in a staged photo shoot during his election campaign.

    French president Emmanuel Macron has lodged a legal complaint for “harassment” and “violation of personal privacy” against a photographer he alleges entered the private property in Marseille where the president and his wife Brigitte were holidaying. The photographer, Thibaut Daliphard, denies trespassing but was arrested and questioned for six hours in custody, when his computer and images were studied by police. Thomas Cantaloube and Michaël Hajdenberg report on the events which highlight Macron’s very firm control of his public image and the journalists who follow him, and also the highly questionable legal move of a president who is by virtue of the French constitution immune to prosecution.

  • Brigitte Macron and the 'First Lady' debate

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    Brigitte and Emmanuel Macron on the steps of the Elysée Palace. © Reuters Brigitte and Emmanuel Macron on the steps of the Elysée Palace. © Reuters

    The French government on Tuesday appeared to be backtracking on President Emmanuel Macron’s pledge to provide his wife Brigitte with an official, legal status of “First Lady”, with the announcement that the position will now be the subject of a “charter”. The development came after an online petition launched last month against creating an official title of First Lady has attracted almost 300,000 signatures. Mediapart political commentator Hubert Huertas argues here that, whether the role of “première dame” is enshrined in a charter or by official status, the petition has focussed attention on both a fundamental problem and a pile of hypocracy.

     

  • The IMF's curious support for Macron's economic strategy

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    France's economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, with Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF. © Reuters France's economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, with Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF. © Reuters

    To the immense satisfaction of France's finance ministers, the International Monetary Fund recently lavished praise on the new French government's economic policies. Yet the IMF's comments on French policy run contrary to the organisation's own admissions over its past analytical failings, its change in economic thinking and much of its own internal research. Romaric Godin says this inevitably raises questions about whether the IMF was taking a political stance towards President Emmanuel Macron's new administration rather than giving economic analysis.

  • Macron's tax breaks to make wealthiest even richer while inequalities set to grow

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    Emmanuel Macron’s new government has announced the introduction of sweeping tax cuts in its 2018 budget which it insists will stimulate growth and reduce unemployment. But a recent study by the French Economic Observatory found that the tax breaks will above all benefit the wealthiest 1% of the French population, without any significant benefit to the economy. Romaric Godin reports.

  • How Macron's row with top general lifts curtain on labour law reforms

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    President Emmanuel Macron and General Pierre de Villiers (standing) during this year's Bastille Day parade. © Reuters President Emmanuel Macron and General Pierre de Villiers (standing) during this year's Bastille Day parade. © Reuters

    President Emmanuel Macron’s government last week announced a package of public spending cuts, including 850 million euros to be slashed from France’s 2017 defence budget in an effort to bring the public deficit to below 3% of GDP, as demanded by the EU. That prompted a furious reaction from the French military’s chief-of-staff, General Pierre de Villiers, who was subsequently publicly slapped down by Macron, reminding the general who is “the boss”. In this wry analysis of the spat and the controversy it has provoked, Mediapart political commentator Hubert Huertas sees an illustration of political gymnastics by Left and Right, but also a surprising insight into Macron’s forthcoming labour law reforms.