Analysis

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

    By and

    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

    By

    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?

    By

    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

    By

    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

    By

    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

    By

    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

    By

    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

    By

    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.