Analysis

  • Hollande and Ayrault, a delicate balancing act between two 'Mr Normals'

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    The five years of the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy were hallmarked by his unprecedented involvement in the day-to-day running of government, from policy announcements to public appearances, leaving his prime minister, François Fillon, in a backstage role. It became dubbed as the ‘hyper presidency’, a dramatic change from that of his predecessors, who perceived their role as a more lofty, behind-the-scenes management of the major affairs of state while their prime ministers were placed at the political frontline. The arrival of François Hollande, self-styled as ‘Mr Normal’, is expected to herald an abrupt rupture with Sarkozy’s media-conscious and agitated presidential style.  But just what will be the power balance in his relationship with Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, a longstanding friend and political ally? Stéphane Alliès reports.

  • Watershed moment for Europe as France and Greece head for the polls

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    France and Greece both go to the urns on Sunday for crucial elections that will, whatever the results, have a significant effect on the future of the EU’s approach to the economic crisis. While the final play-off in the French presidential elections on May 6th could produce a turning point in the use of blanket austerity measures to nurse already strangled EU economies back to health, the Greek legislative elections are in effect a referendum on the country’s continued membership of the eurozone. Mediapart’s Brussels correspondent Ludovic Lamant reports on what is likely to be a watershed moment for Europe.

  • Sarkozy attacks Mediapart over Gaddafi funding revelations

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    French President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced he is to sue Mediapart over its report of plans by the former Libyan regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to fund his presidential election campaign in 2007. Mediapart stands by all the evidence it has revealed, writes Editor-in Chief Edwy Plenel, who explains here why Sarkozy’s reaction, and the accompanying denials of two protected former Gaddafi henchmen, were entirely predictable.

  • France's answer to the social network revolution: the Facebook novel

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    Social networks have had an enormous impact on people's daily lives. The effect of this new form of media has also been felt by the world of culture and art, and in particular the novel. In France writers have been quick to seize upon this new form of communication as an inspiration for their work. Here Christine Marcandier looks at four recent French novels that have been directly influenced by the Facebook revolution.

  • French presidential second round – a tale of two campaigns

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    As François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy battle it out head-to-head ahead of the second round of the French presidential election, they face very different challenges. For the Socialist Party's Hollande, with victory seemingly in his grasp, the aim is to maintain the same measured approach that has marked his campaign so far. For Sarkozy, however, the success of the far-right Front National in the first round has raised a dilemma. Should he court the FN's first-round voters – or instead focus on attracting voters from the political centre? At stake are not just Sarkozy's chance of winning the election, but the future of the right in French politics. First Stéphane Alliès and then Marine Turchi report on two contrasting campaigns ahead of the decisive vote on May 6th.

  • French presidentials, round one: the final scores, the power balance, how the regions voted

    The final, official scores of the candidates in the first round of the French presidential elections show Socialist Party candidate François Hollande in the lead with 28.63% of votes cast, followed by Nicolas Sarkozy at 27.18%. Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen is in third spot, with 17.9% of votes cast. Radical-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon sits fourth with 11.11%, while centre-right MoDem candidate François Bayrou is in fifth position with 9.13%. Of the remaining five candidates, Green party EELV’s Eva Joly scored 2.31%, Gaullist conservative Nicolas Dupont-Aignan 1.79%, far-left NPA party candidate Philippe Poutou 1.15%, the far-left Lutte Ouvrière party’s Nathalie Arthaud 0.56%, while maverick right Jacques Cheminade of the Solidarité et Progrès party came last with 0.25%. The abstention rate among all registered voters is estimated at 21.53%, compared with 16.23% in the first round of the last presidential elections, in 2007. Mediapart presents a graphic guide to how the major candidates scored region by region, the number of votes cast for each, the power balance between Right and Left, and how the situation compares with previous elections. 

  • Public service reforms in France: all pain, little gain

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    In 2007 the government under newly-elected President Nicolas Sarkozy launched a far-reaching series of reforms of the French state and its functions. These much-trumpeted measures were intended to modernise the country's administration – and save money. But though thousands of jobs have gone and some state services have become more expensive, there is little tangible proof that the changes have produced substantial savings. Lucie Delaporte reports.

  • The winds of the Arab Spring blow towards Algeria

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    This year, Algeria, the largest of the Maghrebi countries of North Africa, will mark 50 years of independence from its former ruler France. But the celebrations are set to be heavily subdued by the population’s widespread frustration over social inequalities, unemployment, and the decrepitude of public institutions and infrastructures, the very same issues that prompted the Arab Spring uprisings among its neighbours to the east. Pierre Puchot examines the indicators that suggest the Algerian regime may be the next to fall to a popular revolt.

  • Nicolas Sarkozy charges into elections behind a social and economic battering ram

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    French president Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday announced a battery of economic measures the scope of which has never before been undertaken by a president facing an imminent re-election contest. While still not officially declaring himself candidate in the two-round elections that begin in April, although providing a clear hint that he will run as expected, Sarkozy presented a raft of major reforms to be rushed through parliament in the weeks ahead, including a hike in VAT, a go-it-alone ‘Tobin tax’ and the effective end of the 35-hour minimum working week, all of which are to be introduced after the elections. Mathieu Magnaudeix analyses the principal measures unveiled during an hour-long interview broadcast live across eight television channels.

  • François Hollande and his balancing act for the French presidency

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     © TC/MP © TC/MP

    With 100 days to go before the first round of the French presidential elections, Socialist Party candidate François Hollande (pictured) is still baffling observers and rivals alike. In the wings for over a year now, Hollande has pulled off a tour de force by imposing his slow tempo on the political debate, displaying a singular virtuosity in the art of fuzziness. Stéphane Alliès takes a closer look at the strategy of the man who hopes to become France's first socialist president since 1995.