Huge pipes removing polluted water from a rare earth refinery in Inner Montgolia. © Reuters
The Chinese president Xi Jinping, whose country is embroiled in a trade war with the United States, has threatened an embargo on Chinese exports of what are called rare earths. These metallic elements have become essential raw materials both for the technological transition to greener energy and in the digital world. And China has a near-monopoly on them. Mediapart's Martine Orange spoke about the issue with French expert Guillaume Pitron, author of a recent book on the growing global battle over these crucial elements.
Results of the European Elections in France, in vote share and seats won. © Mediapart
The European Election results in France have confirmed that Marine Le Pen's Rassemblement National – the former Front National – is once again the main opposition in the country to President Emmanuel Macron and his ruling La République en Marche. But outside of that polarised duel the rest of the French political landscape has been shattered,with an abstention rate of 49%. On the Left the environmentalists came top with 13% while on the Right the conservative Les Républicains – the party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy – has collapsed, picking up just 8% of the vote. Stéphane Alliès and Lénaïg Bredoux analyse the results in France.
The new European Parliament elected after final voting on Sunday will produce cross-national political groups, formed from alliances between the party candidates elected in each country. The parties standing in France, which has the second-highest number of seats in the parliament, will play an important part in establishing the political formations, which will have a key role in shaping future European legislation and the appointments to the key EU posts. So where do they stand on two issues that have been largely absent from the campaigning but which promise to occupy a central place in parliament’s future debates, namely European defence policy and the future of a common agricultural policy? François Bonnet and Christophe Gueugneau report.
MEPs at a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, March 2019. © Reuters/Vincent Kessler
The results of this month’s European Parliament elections, which in France and 21 other countries are to be held today, will be a key test of political parties across the continent, where anti-EU, nationalist and populist groups have been gaining ground on traditional parties. For French President Emmanuel Macron, whose LREM party, strongly pro-EU, is fighting European elections for the first time, the outcome on Sunday will also be a test of the credibility of his ambitions for the bloc. But the polling also lifts the curtain on a series of new appointments to lead the EU’s major institutions, which will hang on the results. Ludovic Lamant presents a guide to how the elections work, and the detail of what’s at stake.
Chief Paris public prosecutor Rémy Heitz. © Reuters
A senior reporter from French daily Le Monde has been summoned for questioning later this month by the French domestic intelligence agency, the DGSI, over her investigations into the relationships of President Emmanuel Macron’s disgraced former aide, Alexandre Benalla. The move follows a recent attempt by the Paris public prosecution services to carry out a search of the offices of Mediapart, also following its reports into Benalla’s covert activities, and separate summonses for questioning this month by the DGSI of journalists who revealed the French government’s false claims denying the offensive use of French-made weapons in the war in Yemen. Fabrice Arfi, of Mediapart’s investigative reports team, details the new offensive against journalists who champion the public’s right to know, and the person leading the campaign against them, namely chief Paris public prosecutor Rémy Heitz.
Left to right: Carlos Ghosn, formerly of Renault, Tom Enders who is leaving Airbus and Thierry Pilenko of TechnipFMC. © Reuters
Over the years there have been repeated scandals about the lavish top-up pensions awarded to the bosses of some of France's biggest firms, most recently involving Renault, Airbus and energy industry engineering firm TechnicFMC. Now, in a bid to end such controversies, the government's finance minister Bruno Le Maire is promising legislation to restrict the level of these lucrative perks. But as Mediapart's Martine Orange reports, the measure already looks as if it will be little more than window dressing.
Yellow vest protestors on the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris, November 2018. © Reuters
The two-month-long ‘gilets jaunes’, or ‘yellow vest’, movement in France, protesting the fall in living standards for low- and middle-income earners and against the powers of the country’s social and political elite, continues largely unabated. It has attracted worldwide attention, and not least in the United States, where the Left sees it as an echo of the Occupy Wall Street movement, where also supporters of President Donald Trump have hi-jacked it as a new symbol of protest against the liberal establishment, and where the latter interpret it as a devil of populism. Mediapart’s US correspondent Mathieu Magnaudeix reports from New York on the confused reactions across the Atlantic to the largely misunderstood revolt in France.
From left to right, part of President Macron's inner circle Stéphane Séjourné, Sylvain Fort, Julien Denormandie, Benjamin Griveaux, Richard Ferrand. In the middle is Sibeth Ndiaye. At the Élysée May 14th 2017. © Reuters
The head of communications at the Élysée has just announced that he is to leave his post by the end of January. Sylvain Fort, who is close to Emmanuel Macron having worked alongside him for more than two years, proclaimed his “total loyalty” to the French president. But this and reports of other possible departures from the president's inner circle have further weakened a presidency which is embroiled in the affair involving former security aide Alexandre Benalla and the ongoing social movement carried out by the so-called from the yellow vest protestors. Lénaïg Bredoux reports.
Sihem Bensedrine, president of Tunisia's Instance Vérité et Dignité (IVD) or the Truth and Dignity Commission, at its last meeting. © DR
On December 31st 2018 the independent body charged with tackling the abuses committed during the former dictatorship in Tunisia and helping victims was formally wound up after four and a half years of work. But despite the Truth and Dignity Commission's official status it has not received much support from the key organs of the state, including the presidency, in particular on the key issue of corruption. Lilia Blaise reports on the legacy of the commission's work.
French President Emmanuel Macron. © Reuters
No French president or prime minister over the past 50 years has survived a political crisis like that in which Emmanuel Macron has become engulfed with the ‘gilets jaunes’ – Yellow Vest – movement, which is calling for improved living conditions for low- and middle-income earners, and increased participation of citizens in political decision making. In this analysis of the crisis, François Bonnet argues why Macron, in order to save his five-year term in office, appears to have little other choice than to return to the urns.