Analysis

  • New book reveals François Hollande's disturbing approach to corruption scams

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    François Hollande inside the Elysée Palace. © Reuters François Hollande inside the Elysée Palace. © Reuters

    A book published in France this week presents a long series of ‘fireside’ conversations over several years between President François Hollande and two journalists from French daily Le Monde . The book, Un président ne devrait pas dire ça (“A president shouldn’t say that…”), has caused a storm of controversy, notably over Hollande’s attacks on the “cowardly” higher ranks of the French judiciary and which prompted an embarrassed admission of "regret" by the president on Friday over his comments. But, Mediapart investigative journalists Fabrice Arfi and Mathilde Mathieu argue here, the book is especially revelatory of Hollande’s surprising approach to the catalogue of corruption scams which have shaken the French political establishment over recent years.  For he evidently regards them more in terms of their electoral consequences or the negative fallout upon himself than scandals that raise grave concern over the absence of probity in French politics.

  • Sarkozy's former allies openly turn on their old boss

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    Under fire: Nicolas Sarkozy in Calais, September 21, 2016. © Reuters Under fire: Nicolas Sarkozy in Calais, September 21, 2016. © Reuters

    For a long time Nicolas Sarkozy's former allies avoided personal attacks on the former president, even after they had become his political adversaries in the contest to choose the Right's presidential candidate for 2017. Now, however, the gloves are off and some on the Right are openly talking about the string of political and financial scandals in which the ex-president is currently embroiled. For the first time, report Ellen Salvi and Mathilde Mathieu, Sarkozy now looks politically vulnerable to the sheer weight of the scandals and criticism bearing down on him.

  • SocGen faces 2.2 bln tax break refund over its responsibility in 'rogue trader' losses

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    A 'rogue' trader no more: Jérôme Kerviel. © Reuters A 'rogue' trader no more: Jérôme Kerviel. © Reuters

    In a ruling by the Versailles court of appeal on Friday, French bank Société Générale was found to have been in large part responsible for the 4.9 billion euros in losses attributed to the reckless trades of its so-called “rogue trader” Jérôme Kerviel in 2008. The court ruling concerned Kerviel’s appeal against the damages he was required to pay the bank, which until now was fixed as the entire sum of the losses, and which it reduced to 1 million euros. Mediapart economics and finance correspondent Martine Orange analyses here the many consequences of the ruling, not least of which is the demand that the bank now pay back a 2.2-billion-euro tax break it was granted as a result of the sums lost.

  • The opportunist 'feminism' of the French Right

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    France’s conservative opposition party Les Républicains is readying itself for primary elections in November to decide who will become its candidate in presidential elections next year. In the debates, and speeches at its annual congress earlier this month, the issue of women’s rights has been placed at the fore. But not in the broad context of gender equality, rather as an argument over the issue of Muslim practices in France and the perceptions of a French ‘identity’. Ellen Salvi analyses the rhetoric, and the hypocrisy, of a new-found feminism among a party that remains firmly sexist.


  • The mystery of what really fuelled the French-led intervention in Libya

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    Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron visiting Benghazi. © Reuters Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron visiting Benghazi. © Reuters

    A report published this week by the UK parliament’s foreign affairs committee made public its highly critical conclusions after a one-year inquiry into Britain's involvement in the 2011 military intervention in Libya which led to the overthrow of the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. The committee described the operation, which was led by France, as ill-prepared, ill-informed and without a cohesive strategy. No parliamentary inquiry into the military campaign has ever been held in France, and what exactly fuelled then-president Nicolas Sarkozy’s eagerness to remove Gaddafi remains uncertain, although a number of clues point to a motive ignored by the UK committee of MPs. Fabrice Arfi reports.

  • French society is doomed to collapse, says academic

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    In a recent book sociologist Louis Chauvel claims that, faced with a continued deepening of inequalities, French society is heading towards silent but nonetheless rapid and brutal collapse. The academic says that, rather like the aristocrats of Ancient Rome who did not see the fall of their empire coming, today's elites are blind to the fact that society as it stands is doomed. Joseph Confavreux examines the arguments in a book which at times feels like a memoir from beyond the grave.

  • Why Macron's resignation spells doom for Hollande

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    The resignation of economy minister Emmanuel Macron from François Hollande's government on Tuesday to further his own electoral aspirations has dealt what looks like a fatal blow to the French president's already dwindling hopes ahead of next year's presidential election. But as Mediapart's editor François Bonnet argues, it also illustrates how an entire political system, that of France's Fifth Republic, is coming to an end.

  • The hurt and anger caused by French mayors' burkini bans

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    France’s Council of State will on Friday announce its judgment on whether the ban of the burkini, recently applied by a number of mayors of coastal towns in France, is legal. The bans, imposed mostly in south-east France and amid the backdrop of recent Islamist terrorist attacks, supposedly target the full-body swimwear worn by some Muslim women. But the prohibitions also exclude dress that might threaten “public order”, and there was uproar this week after several reported incidents of police patrols intercepting Muslim women wearing headscarves on the beach. Carine Fouteau analyses a controversy that not only encroaches basic human rights, but which also has played into the hands of the Islamic State group which was behind this summer's terrorist attacks in France.

  • French jobless rate sinks below 10% as Hollande re-election bid looms

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    The unemployment rate in France dropped below 10% during the second quarter of this year, and for the first time since 2012, according to figures released on Thursday by the French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE). The news appears to pave the way for President François Hollande to announce his re-election bid in next year’s presidential elections but, as Martine Orange reports in this analysis of the figures, the slight fall in official jobless numbers cannot mask the grim reality of France’s endemic unemployment.

  • French telecoms group SFR pays the price of reverse-charges takeover

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    Patrick Drahi. © Reuters Patrick Drahi. © Reuters

    French telecoms operator SFR, which was acquired by the holding company of Swiss-based businessman Patrick Drahi in 2014, is losing subscribers to its mobile- and internet-based services by the hundreds of thousands. The haemorrhage threatens the future of the group, already struggling with heavy debts amid one of the toughest telecoms markets in Europe. Martine Orange analyses the cost-cutting, service-reducing strategy employed by Drahi, a champion of the technique of leveraged buyouts.