Analysis

  • 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.  

  • 'In the spring we elected him and in the autumn he betrayed us'

    «Elle te fait si peur, Angela?» © MM «Elle te fait si peur, Angela?» © MM

    Just days ahead of a crucial vote on whether the European Treaty on Stability, Cooperation and Governance (TSCG), otherwise known as the Fiscal Pact, should be ratified, the French Left is deeply split on the issue. Socialist prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault says that if the treaty is not ratified the very future of the euro would be at stake. But a number of MPs on the left of the Socialist Party and from the Greens and radical-left Front de Gauche are bitterly opposed to it, claiming it is simply a charter for permanent austerity. Already there has been a well-attended protest march against the treaty, with some demonstrators even accusing President François Hollande of 'betraying' them over the issue. Though the National Assembly is certain to back the ratification anyway because of support from the Right, the issue is seen as a major test of the prime minister’s and president’s authority. Lénaïg Bredoux and Mathieu Magnaudeix report on the political headaches the treaty is causing the government while Mathieu Magnaudeix and Liza Fabbian take the temperature from the street protests.

  • Bland or grand? The insiders judge Jean-Marc Ayrault

     © Reuters © Reuters

    French socialist Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has finally presented the detail of his  belt-tightening 2013 budget, designed to provide a deficit reduction of 30 billion euros, which was given a critical reception by both the austerity-rejecting Left and the anti-rich tax Right.  Since President François Hollande appointed him as Prime Minister in May, Ayrault, struggling to reach a consensus among his own parliamentary majority, while keen not to alienate the business community, has been slammed in the media for a slowly-slowly approach to decision-making that can’t keep pace with the economic crisis. Dithering or quietly determined, bland or grand? Stéphane Alliès, Lénaïg Bredoux and Mathieu Magnaudeix have been collecting the divided and frank views from inside the corridors of power, including those of ministers and senior advisors.

  • Fighting the organised crime of tax evasion

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    Earlier this month it was revealed that French tycoon Bernard Arnault, chief executive of luxury goods firm LVMH, the wealthiest person in France and the fourth wealthiest worldwide, has applied for dual Belgian nationality. The French conservative opposition was quick to cite it as an example of the flight of capital that will follow higher taxes the government is to impose on the country’s top income earners, while President François Hollande decried Arnault's lack of patriotism. Mediapart Editor-in-Chief Edwy Plenel sets out here how tax evasion has become a colossal and insitutionalised business at the centre of the economy. Fighting it has never been more urgent, yet little effort - if any - is being made to prevent it or to sanction those who are bleeding society of vital resources.  

  • France heading for 10 million in poverty

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    The number of people living in poverty in France is likely to top the 10 million mark in 2013, indicate the results of a report by the French national institute of statistics and economic studies, INSEE, published this month. The fast-rising trend of those falling into financial and social distress is revealed in the institute’s latest study of living standards in the country, which fell for all categories of the population, except for the richest 5 per cent, while poverty increased sharply, especially among the young. Mediapart's economics and finance specialist Laurent Mauduit analyses the disturbing figures.

  • Joana Vasconcelos brings art, colour and a touch of controversy to Versailles

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    Gigantic creations by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos adorn the Palace of Versailles this summer, bringing feminist caricatures of macho attitudes to women to this pinnacle of male power, the Sun King's residence. But although the palace is now presided over by a queen – Nicolas Sarkozy appointed a former advisor, Catherine Pégard, to run it – not all Vasconcelos’s conceptions were welcomed with open arms. Mediapart’s Philippe Riès reviews the exhibition.

  • The cautious couple – Hollande and Ayrault's sober style of government

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     © (Reuters) © (Reuters)

    On Tuesday the new prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault outlined to the French Parliament the government’s legislative programme for the rest of the year. In addition to specific policies, the speech also highlighted the very different style of government France can expect under Ayrault and new president François Hollande. And, argues Stéphane Alliès, Ayrault has shown that politically he is not just a close colleague of Hollande – but a carbon copy.

  • Arab Spring: how women are using their bodies to create a revolution

    Yasser Abou Hamed Yasser Abou Hamed

    As the ramifications of the Arab Spring continue, a new and extraordinary phenomenon has emerged. Across the Middle East and North Africa women have started putting their body – and images of their bodies - at the heart of the unfolding social revolution there. In some demonstrations a blue bra worn by a beaten protester has become a potent symbol of peaceful female resistance to male oppression. Story by Nadia Aissaoui and Ziad Majed.

  • What future for France’s House of History?

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    Plans for a Maison d'histoire de France were unveiled by former French president Nicolas Sarkozy to a storm of protests, including criticism from many historians. Opponents feared that a museum focussed squarely on France's history would become a political vehicle as Sarkozy sought to use the issue of “national identity” in France to boost his appeal with the voters. But now that the museum's chief supporter has gone, the project appears to have gained in respectability among its former detractors. Antoine Perraud wonders what lies ahead for this once deeply controversial museum.