Analysis

  • The energy stakes in the Sahel surrounding the war in Mali

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    As in many recent conflicts involving Western intervention in other countries, France’s decision to wage war against Islamist militants in Mali has been accused by some as furthering its energy interests and economic investments, a suggestion that President François Hollande has unequivocally denied. Mediapart’s international affairs specialist Thomas Cantaloube finds the truth lies in between as he examines here just what are France's interests in the region. While Mali has quasi-inexistent mineral or energy resources, in the wider Sahel area, comprising the north of Mali, the east of Mauretania, Niger and parts of Algeria and Libya, the energy issue is significant.

  • French president's 'blinkered and lonely' war in Mali

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    President François Hollande has just become involved in a large-scale war in Mali. Already some 800 French troops are on the ground in the African country, with the number expected to increase to 2,500 in the coming days and weeks. Meanwhile French aircraft have been carrying out strikes across the country. President Hollande sent in the troops last Friday, January 11th, after Mali's interim president made an urgent plea for help as Islamic rebels headed towards the country's capital. However, argues Mediapart's editor François Bonnet, the intervention has taken place in an impromptu manner, with shifting objectives, an unclear timetable and after having deliberately ignored the complex processes of political negotiations. As a result, he says, France finds itself alone without its European allies in a country that has completely fallen apart.

  • Revealed: The real story about French Muslims, immigration and radicalisation

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    Islam is the second religion in France yet Muslims often feel discriminated against and misunderstood. And because the French state outlaws the gathering of data on religious or ethnic grounds it is difficult to know exactly how Muslims view their faith, how many are being radicalised – or even how many Muslims there are in the country. Here Mediapart publishes the results of a major new study attempting to overcome this lack of data. It confirms that a small proportion of Muslim youths are being radicalised. But it also shows how the way in which they are depicted in society has led to an increased religious sentiment among Muslims anxious to assert their identity. Carine Fouteau reports.

  • Schooled for scandal: the 'affairs' of the French Left

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    Mediapart’s revelations that French budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac held for many years a secret Swiss bank account has met with either hostile reaction or embarrassed silence among his colleagues in the Socialist Party. While it is inflexible and demanding in its approach to scandals involving the Right, the Left has often demonstrated an unwillingness to face up to those other scandals in its own midst, argues here Mediapart legal affairs specialist Michel Deléan, who catalogues a (non-exhaustive) history of scams that have undermined previous socialist governments.

  • What became of President Hollande's plans to reshape Europe?

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    During his election campaign and his first few weeks in office, François Hollande promised to take a different line in Europe, expressing the desire to “reshape” the European Union and promote growth to provide an alternative to German-imposed austerity and structural reforms. But since then the German agenda has re-emerged as the dominant force in the EU, threatening to leave France isolated. Lénaïg Bredoux and Ludovic Lamant wonder what happened to the president’s reformist zeal.

  • The budget minister and the Swiss bank account: why only an independent judicial investigation will do

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    Budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac has adopted a fresh strategy as he tries to defend himself against Mediapart's investigation that shows he had an undisclosed Swiss bank account until 2010. Cahuzac is trying to get the bank to waive its banking secrecy rules to confirm he held no such account – something the bank has so far refused to do. But as François Bonnet and Dan Israel point out, behind this apparent delaying tactic there is a clear conflict of interest between Cahuzac the budget minister and Cahuzac the private bank customer. Which is why, they argue, only an independent judicial investigation can get to the heart of the affair.

  • Ideological splits and strategic dilemmas – the real reason why the right-wing UMP is in crisis

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    The main French right-wing opposition party the UMP has been in turmoil following a disastrous leadership election last month that saw both candidates claiming victory and which led to a formal split among its Members of Parliament. There are signs that the two sides may be close to finding a way out of the immediate crisis amid talk of a new contest next year. But, as Marine Turchi reports, the party has not even begun to address its fundamental problems of ideology and strategy faced with the Far Right.

  • From deglobalisation to cutting business costs: has France's industry supremo changed his political spots?

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    As a contender to be the Socialist Party's presidential candidate a year ago Arnaud Montebourg railed against high-finance and publicly backed deglobalisation and protectionism. But last week the man who is now France’s industrial recovery minister showered a report calling for sharp cuts in labour costs with fulsome praise. His friends insist there is no contradiction. However some wonder whether Montebourg has undergone a political conversion since becoming a government minister. Mediapart’s Lénaïg Bredoux reports.

  • The hidden hand of French companies in US elections

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    While attention in France and elsewhere in the world last week was mainly focused on the presidential race between President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney, there were also many Congressional contests taking place across the United States. An investigation has revealed that a number of French groups were involved in funding candidates at those elections. Officially the fund-raising was carried out by American employees of those French businesses rather than the firms themselves. But, curiously, these staff members tended to favour Congressional candidates who were close to their own company's interests. Martine Orange reports.

     

  • The defeat of a 'world giant': Alcatel-Lucent, its strategic errors and EU blindness

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    Earlier this month, telecommunications company Alcatel-Lucent announced it was to axe 1,430 jobs in France, representing 15% of its French workforce, and affecting every site in the country. Mediapart finance and business writer Martine Orange analyses the steady decline of a former flagship of French industry since its merger with America’s Lucent, when what was supposed to be a new, world giant has crumbled amid a series of strategic errors and the fratricidal effects of Europe’s deregulated telecommunications market.