Analysis

  • The new French government under an all-powerfull Macron

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    French Prime Minister Jean Castex (main photo left) and his 16 principal ministers. © AFP French Prime Minister Jean Castex (main photo left) and his 16 principal ministers. © AFP

    The announcement of the composition of the government to serve under France’s newly appointed prime minister Jean Castex was largely a reshuffle, but with a few notable new arrivals, including the controversial figure of lawyer Éric Dupont-Moretti who was appointed as justice minister. It is also marked by the reinforcement of allies of former president Nicolas Sarkozy to key posts. Ellen Salvi reports on the comings and goings, and analyses the process by which President Emmanuel Macron, with his appointment of Castex, has largely effaced the remaining power of the post of prime minister, and significantly increased his own.

  • Macron tightens his grip with change of prime minister

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    Jean Castex (left) and Emmanuel Macron, in January 2019. © AFP Jean Castex (left) and Emmanuel Macron, in January 2019. © AFP

    The composition of a new French government was announced on Monday evening, following the appointment on Friday of a largely unknown senior civil servant and longstanding conservative, Jean Castex, as France’s new prime minister. He replaced Édouard Philippe, who served in the post since Emmanuel Macron’s election in 2017.  Mediapart political correspondent Ellen Salvi dresses here a portrait of the new prime minister, and chronicles the tensions that led to the departure of Philippe.

  • The historic significance of the Karachi Affair trial verdict

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    Thierry Gaubert, second from right, one of those found guilty in the Karachi Affair, pictured June 15th 2020. © AFP Thierry Gaubert, second from right, one of those found guilty in the Karachi Affair, pictured June 15th 2020. © AFP

    On Monday June 15th 2020 a Paris court handed prison sentences to six men found guilty of organising a vast political funding scam involving kickbacks on French weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in what has become known as the 'Karachi Affair'. It was the first time in France that a criminal court has established that a presidential election campaign – in this case involving Édouard Balladur in 1995 – was funded by kickbacks from state arms deals. It is, says Mediapart's Fabrice Arfi, an object lesson in the weaknesses of a democracy in the face of corruption.

  • EU's free trade dogma remains immune to Covid-19 pandemic

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    Trade officials working for the European Commission may be having to work from home because of the coronavirus pandemic but they are still busy negotiating free trade deals with countries around the world on behalf of the European Union. As Mediapart's Brussels correspondent Ludovic Lamant reports, these officials are behaving as if the Covid-19 outbreak has not had a dramatic effect on everything – including the way people regard world trade and globalisation.

  • French government's failings magnified by Covid-19 epidemic

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    In the front line: President Emmanuel Macron has donned the mantle of a wartime leader. © AFP In the front line: President Emmanuel Macron has donned the mantle of a wartime leader. © AFP

    The French government's public utterances during the coronavirus crisis have cruelly exposed its shortcomings, its method of thinking and the extent to which it is out of touch with events on the ground. There have been contradictory instructions, a slowness to express gratitude to those tackling the crisis on the front line, and great emphasis on the country being “at war”. Inside the government, writes Mediapart political journalist Ellen Salvi, some are worried about the image the executive is giving of itself during the crisis.

  • A century before coronavirus, the economic lessons from Spanish Flu

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    A sign from October 1918 at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia warning people not to spit. © DR A sign from October 1918 at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia warning people not to spit. © DR

    Along with the medical and health fears over the current coronavirus outbreak, there are also growing concerns about the economic impact of a pandemic on the world. In 1918 and 1919, at the end of World War I, the so-called 'Spanish Influenza' killed close to 18 million people. Yet the impact it had on the world economy at the time is poorly understood. Mediapart's Romaric Godin examines what lessons the deadly Spanish flu outbreak might hold for us today.

  • Move to force through pension reform set to deal big blow to Macron presidency

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    A protest against President Macron's pension reforms at Rennes in west France on December 10th 2019. © AFP A protest against President Macron's pension reforms at Rennes in west France on December 10th 2019. © AFP

    On Saturday February 29th, during an emergency meeting of ministers called to discuss the Coronavirus crisis, the French government took the decision to force its bitterly-opposed pension reforms through Parliament without a vote. In adopting the “nuclear option” of invoking Article 49-3 of the French Constitution to do this, President Emmanuel Macron is hoping that public debate will now shift to other issues. But as Ellen Salvi writes, the move is likely to plunge the remaining two years of his presidency into greater political uncertainty and even undermine his chances of re-election in 2022.

  • The disastrous Argentine legacy of ex-IMF boss Christine Lagarde

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    Christine Lagarde, then managing direrctor of the IMF, and Mauricio Macri, then president of Argentina, at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires in November 2018. © AFP Christine Lagarde, then managing direrctor of the IMF, and Mauricio Macri, then president of Argentina, at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires in November 2018. © AFP

    In July 2018 Christine Lagarde, then managing director of the International Monetary Fund, sanctioned a loan totalling 56 billion dollars to Argentina. Yet today the South American country's economy is once again on the verge of collapse. Mediapart's Martine Orange looks at this dismal financial legacy of the former French finance minister who is now at the helm of the European Central Bank.

  • Algeria’s energy blind spot over shale gas

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    The North African country’s new president has put shale gas back on the agenda, an unpopular, short-sighted move that has added to the complaints of a restive population whose protests brought about dramatic regime change last year. Rachida El Azzouzi reports.

     

  • How France's narrow focus on a military solution in Mali has led to stalemate in region

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    A French soldier at Gao in Mali deep in reflection in front of the coffins of the 13 French troops killed in the country on November 25th 2019. © Reuters A French soldier at Gao in Mali deep in reflection in front of the coffins of the 13 French troops killed in the country on November 25th 2019. © Reuters

    On Monday November 25th 13 members of the French military were killed when two helicopters crashed in Mali during France's ongoing military operations there. The grim news sparked debates back in France about the country's military involvement in the Sahel region of Africa. But as Mediapart's René Backmann writes, the legacy of France's colonial past and the remnants of its post-colonial approach to the continent known as 'Françafrique' suggest that President Emmanuel Macron's government will be unable to see that military combat against jihadism is not the only response that is needed to tackle the region's instability.