Analysis

  • French presidential race: the insoluble divide of the Left

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    Benoît Hamon: seeking a path to party unity. Benoît Hamon: seeking a path to party unity.

    With just ten weeks to go before voting begins in the first round of France’s presidential elections, newly-elected Socialist Party candidate Benoît Hamon has revealed a campaign team made up of fellow leftwingers but also of allies of President François Hollande and former prime minister Manuel Valls.  While Hamon’s olive branch to the party’s Right may dissipate its predicted desertion in favour of maverick centrist Emmanuel Macron, it suggests there can be little, if any, chance that he can reach an alliance with radical-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Mediapart political analyst Hubert Huertas sketches here the fundamental divide between Mélenchon and Hamon and what is at stake for the future of the Socialist Party.

  • Macron attracts the crowds – but where are his policies?

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    The glitzy Emmanuel Macron rally at Lyon on Saturday February 4th, 2017. © Reuters The glitzy Emmanuel Macron rally at Lyon on Saturday February 4th, 2017. © Reuters

    With just over 70 days to go before the first round of the French presidential election, former economy minister Emmanuel Macron continues to attract large crowds to his rallies and is doing well in the opinion polls. Yet what does the founder of the 'En Marche!' political movement - who keeps talking about “bringing people together” - actually plan to do if he is elected president? Mathieu Magnaudeix attended Macron's latest gathering but came away little the wiser.

  • The thwarted generation of socialists taking a tilt at the French presidency

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    Clockwise, from top left: Benoît Hamon, Arnaud Montebourg, Manuel Valls and Vincent Peillon. © Reuters Clockwise, from top left: Benoît Hamon, Arnaud Montebourg, Manuel Valls and Vincent Peillon. © Reuters

    The four main contenders to be the official mainstream socialist candidate for the 2017 French presidential elections, Benoît Hamon, Arnaud Montebourg, Vincent Peillon and Manuel Valls, know each other extremely well. For more than 20 years the members of this quartet have occupied important positions and roles in the Socialist Party and were once hailed as a new generation destined to modernise the party. Now, having never been able to form lasting alliances among themselves, and having been 'blocked' by the generation above them, the four are all standing against each other in the party's primary to choose a candidate for the Elysée. Stéphane Alliès and Donatien Huet report on four politicians who have waited a long time for their chance to become president.

  • John Berger the writer who changed how we look at things: a view from Paris

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    The celebrated British art critic and writer John Berger has died in Paris at the age of 90. Mediapart's Antoine Perraud says that his work as a thinker and writer has helped change the way we look not just at art but the whole world around us. Here is his appreciation of Berger's life and work.

  • Pardon for battered wife highlights paradoxes of French system of government

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    President François Hollande has just granted a full pardon to Jacqueline Sauvage, a woman who killed her husband after he had continually beaten her and sexually abused their daughters. Hubert Huertas says the decision to act having hesitated for so long over the pardon sums up Hollande's presidency. He also argues that the case illustrates the limits of French democracy and highlights the issue of judicial scandals.

  • Fall of Aleppo reveals fault lines in French politics

    The end of the battle for Syria's second city and the plight of its civilians have drawn different responses from across France's political spectrum. On the Right the line taken by conservative presidential candidate François Fillon has been close to that of the far-right Front National, with his defence of the Assad regime and Vladimir Putin. The ruling Socialist Party and the Greens have emphasised their support for Syria's opposition, while the radical left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon has adopted an anti-imperialist stance, with the United States as his main target. Lénaïg Bredoux, Lucie Delaporte and Christophe Gueugneau report.

  • Why François Hollande chose not to stand for re-election

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    Not seeking re-election: François Hollande. © Reuters Not seeking re-election: François Hollande. © Reuters

    Under attack from within his own political camp, President François Hollande announced on Thursday night that he will not be standing for re-election in France's presidential elections next year. His decision, announced live on television, followed a period of high tension in the highest echelons of the state during which the head of state had come under fire from his own prime minister, Manuel Valls. Mediapart's Lénaïg Bredoux reports on what led the socialist president to take this momentous decision, the first time under France's Fifth Republic that a president has chosen not to seek a new term.

  • The rise in job insecurity in the French workplace

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    The problem of unemployment is France is well-documented and discussed each month when the latest jobless totals are published. Less well-known, however, is the issue of underemployment affecting people on short-term contracts, in temporary jobs, on workplace experience or those trying to become self-employed. As Mathilde Goanec explains, there are two constant factors in this world of workplace insecurity – a rapid turnover in jobs and ever-greater problems in eventually finding full-time fixed employment.

  • Why Fillon's win has thrown down the gauntlet to the entire French Left

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    The crushing win in Sunday's conservative primary by former prime minister François Fillon shows that the French Right is not worried about its electoral opponents, writes Mediapart's Hubert Huertas. In choosing the most hardline candidate with the most radical austerity programme since the end of World War II, right-wing voters have delivered a message of supreme confidence. As far as they are concerned, it is as if left-wing opposition no longer exists. So how, he asks, will the French Left respond?

  • France's 'Iron Man': economic plans of François Fillon

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    François Fillon is favourite to be the Right's presidential candidate. © Reuters François Fillon is favourite to be the Right's presidential candidate. © Reuters

    The frontrunner in the primary election to become the presidential candidate for the French Right and centre is a known admirer of Britain's late prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who was dubbed the “Iron Lady”. His economic plans include a strategic and immediate “shock” to the French system; the end of the 35-hour working week, abolition of the wealth tax, increasing the retirement age to 65 and reforming unemployment benefit and workplace rights. As Martine Orange reports ahead of Sunday's crucial second round contest, François Fillon plans to introduce these sweeping changes within the first two months if he becomes president – despite the risk that they would provoke a recession.