Analysis

  • How political reality caught up with Macron over fate of his environment minister

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    François de Rugy, right, with President Emmanuel Macron  and prime minister Édoaurd Philippe, December 10th 2018. © Reuters François de Rugy, right, with President Emmanuel Macron and prime minister Édoaurd Philippe, December 10th 2018. © Reuters

    When the affair involve environment minister François de Rugy's use of public money first broke, President Emmanuel Macron was determined to hold firm and keep his minister in government. He did not want to “give an inch” to Mediapart he was reported as saying, and initially insisted that unless and until a criminal investigation was opened his minister should stay. But in the end, because of the impact the story was having among the public, and despite the fact that there was little real prospect of legal proceedings being started, President Macron bowed to political reality – and de Rugy left the government. Ellen Salvi reports.

  • The new raw materials at centre of global disputes: rare earth elements

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    Huge pipes removing polluted water from a rare earth refinery in Inner Montgolia. © Reuters Huge pipes removing polluted water from a rare earth refinery in Inner Montgolia. © Reuters

    The Chinese president Xi Jinping, whose country is embroiled in a trade war with the United States, has threatened an embargo on Chinese exports of what are called rare earths. These metallic elements have become essential raw materials both for the technological transition to greener energy and in the digital world. And China has a near-monopoly on them. Mediapart's Martine Orange spoke about the issue with French expert Guillaume Pitron, author of a recent book on the growing global battle over these crucial elements.

  • Le Pen's far-right party heads fragmented opposition at Euro elections

    Results of the European Elections in France, in vote share and seats won. © Mediapart Results of the European Elections in France, in vote share and seats won. © Mediapart

    The European Election results in France have confirmed that Marine Le Pen's Rassemblement National – the former Front National – is once again the main opposition in the country to President Emmanuel Macron and his ruling La République en Marche. But outside of that polarised duel the rest of the French political landscape has been shattered,with an abstention rate of 49%. On the Left the environmentalists came top with 13% while on the Right the conservative Les Républicains – the party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy – has collapsed, picking up just 8% of the vote. Stéphane Alliès and Lénaïg Bredoux analyse the results in France.

  • European elections: where the French parties stand on defence and agricultural policies

    The new European Parliament elected after final voting on Sunday will produce cross-national political groups, formed from alliances between the party candidates elected in each country. The parties standing in France, which has the second-highest number of seats in the parliament, will play an important part in establishing the political formations, which will have a key role in shaping future European legislation and the appointments to the key EU posts. So where do they stand on two issues that have been largely absent from the campaigning but which promise to occupy a central place in parliament’s future debates, namely European defence policy and the future of a common agricultural policy? François Bonnet and Christophe Gueugneau report.

  • European elections: how they work and what's at stake

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    MEPs at a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, March 2019.  © Reuters/Vincent Kessler MEPs at a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, March 2019. © Reuters/Vincent Kessler

    The results of this month’s European Parliament elections, which in France and 21 other countries are to be held today, will be a key test of political parties across the continent, where anti-EU, nationalist and populist groups have been gaining ground on traditional parties. For French President Emmanuel Macron, whose LREM party, strongly pro-EU, is fighting European elections for the first time, the outcome on Sunday will also be a test of the credibility of his ambitions for the bloc. But the polling also lifts the curtain on a series of new appointments to lead the EU’s major institutions, which will hang on the results. Ludovic Lamant presents a guide to how the elections work, and the detail of what’s at stake.    

  • The abject intimidation of French investigative journalists

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    Chief Paris public prosecutor Rémy Heitz. © Reuters Chief Paris public prosecutor Rémy Heitz. © Reuters

    A senior reporter from French daily Le Monde has been summoned for questioning later this month by the French domestic intelligence agency, the DGSI, over her investigations into the relationships of President Emmanuel Macron’s disgraced former aide, Alexandre Benalla. The move follows a recent attempt by the Paris public prosecution services to carry out a search of the offices of Mediapart, also following its reports into Benalla’s covert activities, and separate summonses for questioning this month by the DGSI of journalists who revealed the French government’s false claims denying the offensive use of French-made weapons in the war in Yemen. Fabrice Arfi, of Mediapart’s investigative reports team, details the new offensive against journalists who champion the public’s right to know, and the person leading the campaign against them, namely chief Paris public prosecutor Rémy Heitz.  

  • Why plans to cap top-up pensions for France's bosses are just for show

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    Left to right: Carlos Ghosn, formerly of Renault, Tom Enders who is leaving Airbus and Thierry Pilenko of TechnipFMC. © Reuters Left to right: Carlos Ghosn, formerly of Renault, Tom Enders who is leaving Airbus and Thierry Pilenko of TechnipFMC. © Reuters

    Over the years there have been repeated scandals about the lavish top-up pensions awarded to the bosses of some of France's biggest firms, most recently involving Renault, Airbus and energy industry engineering firm TechnicFMC. Now, in a bid to end such controversies, the government's finance minister Bruno Le Maire is promising legislation to restrict the level of these lucrative perks. But as Mediapart's Martine Orange reports, the measure already looks as if it will be little more than window dressing.

  • Feared and revered: US views on France’s ‘yellow vests’

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    Yellow vest protestors on the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris, November 2018. © Reuters Yellow vest protestors on the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris, November 2018. © Reuters

    The two-month-long ‘gilets jaunes’, or ‘yellow vest’, movement in France, protesting the fall in living standards for low- and middle-income earners and against the powers of the country’s social and political elite, continues largely unabated. It has attracted worldwide attention, and not least in the United States, where the Left sees it as an echo of the Occupy Wall Street movement, where also supporters of President Donald Trump have hi-jacked it as a new symbol of protest against the liberal establishment, and where the latter interpret it as a devil of populism. Mediapart’s US correspondent Mathieu Magnaudeix reports from New York on the confused reactions across the Atlantic to the largely misunderstood revolt in France.

  • Macron weakened by departures from entourage

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    From left to right, part of President Macron's inner circle Stéphane Séjourné, Sylvain Fort, Julien Denormandie, Benjamin Griveaux, Richard Ferrand. In the middle is Sibeth Ndiaye. At the Élysée May 14th 2017. © Reuters From left to right, part of President Macron's inner circle Stéphane Séjourné, Sylvain Fort, Julien Denormandie, Benjamin Griveaux, Richard Ferrand. In the middle is Sibeth Ndiaye. At the Élysée May 14th 2017. © Reuters

    The head of communications at the Élysée has just announced that he is to leave his post by the end of January. Sylvain Fort, who is close to Emmanuel Macron having worked alongside him for more than two years, proclaimed his “total loyalty” to the French president. But this and reports of other possible departures from the president's inner circle have further weakened a presidency which is embroiled in the affair involving former security aide Alexandre Benalla and the ongoing social movement carried out by the so-called from the yellow vest protestors. Lénaïg Bredoux reports.

  • State struggles to accept process of reconciliation in post-dictatorship Tunisia

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    Sihem Bensedrine, president of Tunisia's Instance Vérité et Dignité (IVD) or the Truth and Dignity Commission, at its last meeting. © DR Sihem Bensedrine, president of Tunisia's Instance Vérité et Dignité (IVD) or the Truth and Dignity Commission, at its last meeting. © DR

    On December 31st 2018 the independent body charged with tackling the abuses committed during the former dictatorship in Tunisia and helping victims was formally wound up after four and a half years of work. But despite the Truth and Dignity Commission's official status it has not received much support from the key organs of the state, including the presidency, in particular on the key issue of corruption. Lilia Blaise reports on the legacy of the commission's work.