Analysis

  • The rise in job insecurity in the French workplace

    By

    The problem of unemployment is France is well-documented and discussed each month when the latest jobless totals are published. Less well-known, however, is the issue of underemployment affecting people on short-term contracts, in temporary jobs, on workplace experience or those trying to become self-employed. As Mathilde Goanec explains, there are two constant factors in this world of workplace insecurity – a rapid turnover in jobs and ever-greater problems in eventually finding full-time fixed employment.

  • Why Fillon's win has thrown down the gauntlet to the entire French Left

    By

    The crushing win in Sunday's conservative primary by former prime minister François Fillon shows that the French Right is not worried about its electoral opponents, writes Mediapart's Hubert Huertas. In choosing the most hardline candidate with the most radical austerity programme since the end of World War II, right-wing voters have delivered a message of supreme confidence. As far as they are concerned, it is as if left-wing opposition no longer exists. So how, he asks, will the French Left respond?

  • France's 'Iron Man': economic plans of François Fillon

    By
    François Fillon is favourite to be the Right's presidential candidate. © Reuters François Fillon is favourite to be the Right's presidential candidate. © Reuters

    The frontrunner in the primary election to become the presidential candidate for the French Right and centre is a known admirer of Britain's late prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who was dubbed the “Iron Lady”. His economic plans include a strategic and immediate “shock” to the French system; the end of the 35-hour working week, abolition of the wealth tax, increasing the retirement age to 65 and reforming unemployment benefit and workplace rights. As Martine Orange reports ahead of Sunday's crucial second round contest, François Fillon plans to introduce these sweeping changes within the first two months if he becomes president – despite the risk that they would provoke a recession.

  • Why Nicolas Sarkozy was sent packing by the Right's voters

    By
    Crushing defeat: the Right's voters have massively rejected their former leader Nicolas Sarkozy.. © Reuters Crushing defeat: the Right's voters have massively rejected their former leader Nicolas Sarkozy.. © Reuters

    It is both a defeat and a humiliation. Having finished third in the Right's primary election on Sunday to choose a presidential candidate for 2017 and thus eliminated from the race, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has seen his political strategy torn to pieces. He has, in effect, been sacked by his own electorate. The unprecedented democratic election on the Right has instead witnessed the victory of hardline conservative and former prime minister François Fillon. Mediapart's editor François Bonnet analyses what led to a tumultuous night in French politics that now seems certain to mark the end of Sarkozy's political career.

  • How Wallonia became spearhead of opposition to EU-Canada trade deal

    By
    'Non': Walloon leader Paul Magnette rejects the CETA deal in its current form. © Reuters 'Non': Walloon leader Paul Magnette rejects the CETA deal in its current form. © Reuters

    The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement or CETA trade deal between the European Union and Canada was in deep trouble after the Belgian region of Wallonia refused to accept it, despite strong efforts behind the scenes by neighbouring France to put pressure on the French-speaking area. Finally a last-minute deal was reached on Thursday October 27th, but came too late to allow Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau to fly to Brussels to sign the deal at a summit that has now been postponed. Martine Orange looks at how a small Belgian region became a focal point of opposition to a trade deal many fear will act as a Trojan horse for North American multinationals.

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

    By and
    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

    By and
    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

    By
    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

    By

    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

    By
    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.