Analysis

  • Why Nicolas Sarkozy faces trial over claims he sought inside information from judge

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    Barely a week after Nicolas Sarkozy was placed under formal investigation over Libyan funding of his 2007 presidential campaign, the former president has been hit by a new legal blow. Judges have ruled he must stand trial on corruption and influence peddling charges over claims that he tried to get a senior judge to leak him crucial information about the progress of a case involving him. In return the ex-head of state is said to have promised to help get the judge a plum post in Monaco. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan explains the background.

  • How Sarkozy's dealings with Gaddafi went unchecked

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    Nicolas Sarkozy with then-president François Hollande at a ceremony marking V-E Day on May 8th 2013. © Reuters Nicolas Sarkozy with then-president François Hollande at a ceremony marking V-E Day on May 8th 2013. © Reuters

    The placing under investigation of Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday for corruption, embezzling public funds and illegal electoral funding by the regime of late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi has come about as the judicial investigation is in its fifth year, and seven years after Mediapart first revealed the former conservative president’s dealings with Tripoli. During the entire period, which includes five years of socialist government, the political powers have regularly turned their backs on the disturbing questions raised by the mounting evidence of Sarkozy’s dubious relations with the dictator, and also the circumstances of France’s subsequent military intervention in Libya, to the point of dismissing repeated calls for a parliamentary inquiry. Antton Rouget reports.

  • Macron plays public opinion card against his critics

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    President Emmanuel Macron and a chicken at the Paris farm show, the Salon de l’Agriculture, February 24th, 2018. © Reuters President Emmanuel Macron and a chicken at the Paris farm show, the Salon de l’Agriculture, February 24th, 2018. © Reuters

    Emmanuel Macron has always insisted he is not worried about opinion polls and that, as head of state, he is willing to court unpopularity to do what he considers right for France. That has not stopped him basing his political strategy around what the public says, sometimes playing off the polls against critics of his reforms – even if that risks dividing the French people. Ellen Salvi looks at the French president's approach to public opinion.

  • President Macron sets political trap for France's railway workers

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    A government-commissioned report on France's railway sector has put reform of the employment status and supposedly “exorbitant privileges” of the country's railway workers firmly at the centre of the political agenda. These changes would themselves save around 100 million to 150 million euros in savings over ten years – a modest amount compared with the massive debts of the train operator SNCF. But as Martine Orange reports, the French presidency's real aim is to win a political battle by getting pubic opinion on its side.

  • Town v country: rural French schools feel sacrificed in favour of urban areas

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    A classroom in a primary school in Marseille. © Reuters A classroom in a primary school in Marseille. © Reuters

    The education authorities have just made their annual announcement about which primary school classes are being closed and which are being opened in the next academic year. Teaching unions and elected representatives in rural areas fear village schools are getting fewer teaching posts so that the government can implement its flagship policy of halving class sizes in education priority zones - which are overwhelmingly in deprived urban areas. Education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer rejects the claims. Mediapart's education correspondent Faïza Zerouala reports.

  • Macron's migrant clampdown faces mounting opposition

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    French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday visited the Channel port of Calais, which for years has been a magnet for thousands of migrants from Africa and the Middle East seeking a passage to Britain from makeshift camps set up around the town. While his presence was ostensibly to address the local crisis, Macron’s visit also served as a platform to present his government’s proposed toughening up of immigration laws. But the planned clampdown on so-called economic migrants, who face mass deportations, has met with outrage not only from organisations defending migrants’ rights, but also from Macron’s own allies.

  • Macron targets reform of France's 'disgraceful' public broadcasting

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    President Emmanuel Macron seems set to reform French public broadcasting. © Eric Feferberg / Reuters President Emmanuel Macron seems set to reform French public broadcasting. © Eric Feferberg / Reuters

    A row has broken out after President Emmanuel Macron reportedly described French public broadcasting as a “disgrace to the Republic”. His office has denied the exact phrasing but there is little doubt that the president is not happy with the quality of programmes or the way that the country's public broadcasting sector is run. It is equally clear, reports Loup Espargilière, that President Macron is planning major reforms in this area.

  • Old habits die hard: Macron seeks end to traditional French approach to Africa

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    Emmanuel Macron speaking at the University of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso on Tuesday November 28th, 2017. © Reuters Emmanuel Macron speaking at the University of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso on Tuesday November 28th, 2017. © Reuters

    On his first tour of Africa last week President Emmanuel Macron vowed to do away with France's old and discredited approach to the continent. Addressing 800 students in the Burkina Faso capital of Ouagadougou, the French head of state certainly struck a fresh tone, talked of new projects and themes and signalled the passing of an old generation. But as Mediapart's editor François Bonnet reports, the old and serious problems confronting France in its relations with Africa have not gone away.

  • Study finds surge in numbers of people in poverty in France

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    A report released this month by an independent research body on social exclusion calculates that up to one million more people in France fell below the poverty line between 2005 and 2015. While the financial and economic crisis is largely responsible, the slight recovery of growth has had little, if any, effect on easing the numbers of poor, one third of who are children. Laurent Mauduit analyses the data.

  • Defending the indefensible: the French state's justification of press censorship in the Bettencourt affair

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    In July 2013, Mediapart was ordered by a French court to remove all its published articles that cited secret tape recordings made by the butler of Liliane Bettencourt which provided evidence of how the late heiress to the L’Oréal cosmetics giant, suffering from dementia, was despoiled of part of her wealth by her close entourage. The tapes were at the centre of what became known as the Bettencourt affair and led to the convictions of several of those involved in the scam. Yet the censorship of the contents of the recordings remains, and Mediapart has challenged the ruling before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Mediapart publishing editor Edwy Plenel analyses here the French state’s submission to the ECHR in defence of the censorship, and highlights its absurd and contradictory attempt to justify the violation of the right to know.