Analysis

  • How the Balladur verdict highlights fatal flaws of CJR - France's ministerial court

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    Former PM Édouard  Balladur arriving at the CJR on January 19th 2021. © Alain JOCARD / AFP Former PM Édouard Balladur arriving at the CJR on January 19th 2021. © Alain JOCARD / AFP

    On Thursday March 4th 2021 the Cour de Justice de la République (CJR) – which tries cases of alleged ministerial misconduct – cleared former French prime minister Édouard Balladur of any wrongdoing in the long-running Karachi affair. At the same time it found Balladur's former defence minister François Léotard guilty of complicity in the misuse of assets and handed him a two-year suspended prison sentence. The verdicts were much more lenient than those for ministerial aides in the earlier criminal trial involving the same affair. Karl Laske wonders how long the hybrid CJR court, most of whose 'judges' are politicians, can survive.

  • Sarkozy conviction reveals the forest of corruption in France

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    Nicolas Sarkozy arriving at the court in Paris on Monday 1st March 2021. © Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP Nicolas Sarkozy arriving at the court in Paris on Monday 1st March 2021. © Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

    The significance of the conviction of former president Nicolas Sarkozy in the 'Paul Bismuth' phone tap affair goes wider than one case, says Mediapart's Fabrice Arfi. It highlights the extent to which France is a country is riddled with corruption.

  • Paris mayor puts President Macron on spot over refusal to order new lockdown

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    President Emmanuel Macron and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo on July 24th 2020. © Franck Fife/AFP President Emmanuel Macron and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo on July 24th 2020. © Franck Fife/AFP

    The city authorities in Paris, led by mayor Anne Hidalgo, have suggested that the French capital and surrounding region be put under a new lockdown to tackle the worsening Covid-19 virus situation there. This has piled pressure on President Emmanuel Macron who has been described by some as the country's “epidemiologist-in-chief” and who has so far resisted growing calls for a lockdown not just in the capital but across France. As Ellen Salvi reports, the Paris authorities are effectively asking a question that the head of state's supporters are refusing to countenance: what if the French president has got it wrong?

  • How France's crackdown on 'separatism' has played into hands of Turkey's Erdogan

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    Emmanuel Macron and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the NATO summit on December 4th 2019. © CHRISTIAN HARTMANN / POOL / AFP Emmanuel Macron and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the NATO summit on December 4th 2019. © CHRISTIAN HARTMANN / POOL / AFP

    President Emmanuel Macron has championed measures against Islamic 'separatism' in French society, and legislation on the issue is currently going through the country's Parliament. This controversial move has handed Turkey's combative president Recep Tayyip Erdogan a fresh opportunity to portray himself as the leading Muslim leader standing up against Western Islamophobia. But as Nicolas Cheviron reports from Istanbul, behind the geopolitical considerations, Franco-Turkish Muslims have genuine concerns about the new measures in France.

  • Why France has been so slow to start its Covid vaccination campaign

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    Mauricette M., aged 78, becomes the first French person to get a vaccine on December 27th 2020 at the René-Muret hospital at Sevran near Paris. © Thomas Samson / AFP Mauricette M., aged 78, becomes the first French person to get a vaccine on December 27th 2020 at the René-Muret hospital at Sevran near Paris. © Thomas Samson / AFP

    In his New Year's Eve address to the nation President Emmanuel Macron made clear his intention to speed up France's Covid vaccination programme, apparently stung by the country's slow performance compared with many others. Privately he is said to be angry at its “unwarranted slowness” and as a result the country is expected to step up its campaign this week. So far the number of vaccinations in France measures in the low hundreds compared with tens or hundreds of thousands - or even millions - in some other countries. Caroline Coq-Chodorge reports on the public mistrust that lies behind France's sluggish start in vaccinating its population.

  • The 'fake news' story about a French Muslim youth 'beaten up for celebrating Christmas'

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    Quick to react to the story, interior minister Gérald Darmanin; seen here at the Élysée in June 2019. © Ludovic Marin / AFP Quick to react to the story, interior minister Gérald Darmanin; seen here at the Élysée in June 2019. © Ludovic Marin / AFP

    A news story stating that a Muslim youth was beaten up on Boxing Day for having celebrated Christmas made the headlines in France. The only problem is that, on closer inspection, there is little evidence that the main claim in the story is true. This did not stop it being reported by many media, or prevent police trade unions and the interior minister Gérald Darmanin from expressing their condemnation of the alleged motives of the attack. David Perrotin and Ilyes Ramdani report on the making of a 'fake news' story.

  • Giscard and Macron: the worrying political similarities

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    Valéry Giscard d'Estaing at Le Bourget,near Paris, October 14th 2014. © Stéphane de Sakutin/AFP Valéry Giscard d'Estaing at Le Bourget,near Paris, October 14th 2014. © Stéphane de Sakutin/AFP

    The death was announced late on Wednesday December 2nd 2020 of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, aged 94, who was president of France from 1974 to 1981. Here Mediapart's François Bonnet compares Giscard's term of office with the current presidency of Emmanuel Macron. He argues that in a provisional assessment of their achievements the record of the present incumbent of the Élysée does not compare well with his predecessor, especially on social issues. However, there are many similarities between the two men and their presidencies, including the way they came to power and, most ominously, their subsequent slide towards more repressive policies.

  • Police violence: why France's interior minister must go

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    An image of Michel Zecler following the assault by three French police officers in Paris on November 21st. © Loopsider An image of Michel Zecler following the assault by three French police officers in Paris on November 21st. © Loopsider

    There has been widespread outrage in France after video footage emerged of three police officers apparently gratuitously beating a black music producer in Paris, who was left with serious injuries from punches, kicks, baton blows and the explosion of a tear gas grenade in his studio last weekend. François Bonnet argues here that the events highlight how interior minister Gérald Darmanin has made a policy of flattering the most extremist fringes of the police, creating disorder amid heightened police violence. It is high time, he writes, for Darmanin to go.

  • The viral French film promoting the Covid-19 conspiracy theory

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     © Capture d'écran © Capture d'écran

    Released online earlier this month, Hold-Up is a French pseudo-documentary which promotes the conspiracy theory that Covid-19 was created in a plot by a group of powerful individuals to reshape the world in their interests. Despite the absurdity of the idea, and its inability to produce evidence to support its case, the film attracted an audience of more than three million in the first week of its appearance. Lucie Delaporte reports on an exercise in manipulation of the gullible.   

  • The 'low intensity' terrorism targeting France

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    The cover of a 2016 issue of the al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) magazine Inspire, dedicated to “home assassinations”. © DR The cover of a 2016 issue of the al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) magazine Inspire, dedicated to “home assassinations”. © DR

    The attack on a church in the French Riviera city of Nice on Thursday, which left three people dead from knife wounds, was the third in the space of a month in a long series of terrorist attacks in France perpetrated by lone knifemen who have often escaped the attention of intelligence services. In the jargon of those services, they are called attacks of “low intensity”, meaning of little means and organisation, but which have a major impact on public opinion. Matthieu Suc reports.