Chronicles

  • Will Paris pay a steep price for hosting 2024 Olympics?

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    President Emmanuel Macron with the delegration from the Paris 2024 bid at Lausanne in Switzerland on July 11th, 2017. © Reuters President Emmanuel Macron with the delegration from the Paris 2024 bid at Lausanne in Switzerland on July 11th, 2017. © Reuters

    An agreement struck between Los Angeles and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over 2028 has left the way open for Paris to be the host nation for the 2024 Games. While rival cities have pulled out of the race for budgetary reasons, officials behind the French bid insist they will keep to their budget of 6.6 billion euros. But as Antton Rouget reports, there are nonetheless real risks of an overspend, especially on security.

  • The contradictions of France's new-look National Assembly

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    The new Members of Parliament have taken up their seats in the National Assembly following the Parliamentary elections and they consist of new faces, new groups and a new social demographic. Many of them are from a non-political, civic society background, with their own habits, customs and beliefs and bringing with them, too, a desire to circumvent the old political obstacles and delays of the past. But, says Hubert Huertas, this new group may themselves soon end up personifying those very same old political ways.

  • How elections debunked myth that France is lurching to the Right

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    The hard and far right narrative came undone in France's Parliamentary elections. The hard and far right narrative came undone in France's Parliamentary elections.

    The fact that a party that did not even exist just over a year ago has just won an absolute majority in the French National Assembly has inevitably excited surprise among commentators. But, argues Hubert Huertas, one remarkable aspect of the recent presidential and legislative votes has largely gone unnoticed: the death of the notion that French society was on some inevitable path towards the far right. This theory, which was enthusiastically adopted by Nicolas Sarkozy and exemplified by the Front National, has been comprehensively demolished, he says.

  • Macron's first-round win is centrist François Bayrou's revenge

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    Veteran politician François Bayrou with Emmanuel Macron. Veteran politician François Bayrou with Emmanuel Macron.

    History has a long memory. The upheaval caused by the first-round vote in the French presidential election is the third act in a drama that began in 2007. The fourth act will be the likely success of Emmanuel Macron in the second round and his election as French president on May 7th. Hubert Huertas says Macron's triumph would also represent a final victory for centrist politician François Bayrou who tried but failed to break the two-party stranglehold on French politics a decade ago.

  • Is this French presidential election's unpredictability really so unusual?

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    The five main candidates at a televised debate on TF1 on 20th March, 2017. © REUTERS The five main candidates at a televised debate on TF1 on 20th March, 2017. © REUTERS

    The chatter about the French presidential election focuses on the likely high abstention rate, the record number of undecided voters, a possible last-minute surge by the Right and whether one can trust the polls. In particular, just under three weeks from the first round of voting, the talk is of how unpredictable and hard to forecast this 2017 election is. But, Hubert Huertas, argues it is no more unpredictable than usual. It is just that when it comes to the mood of voters, the rules have changed.

  • Why France's rural populations feel 'abandoned'

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    The Aube département or county in the north-east of France is a rural area that also has pockets of industrialisation. Here, apart from the 'fake jobs' controversy surrounding right-wing candidate François Fillon, the presidential election campaign seems not to have had much of an impact so far. This has left the far-right Front National to take advantage of the relative indifference of the other candidates towards issues affecting those who live in the French countryside. Mathilde Goanec reports.

  • François Fillon and his conflict of interest over insurance giant AXA

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    François Fillon (left) and his friend Henri de Castries, former CEO of AXA. © DR François Fillon (left) and his friend Henri de Castries, former CEO of AXA. © DR

    On February 6th the beleaguered right-wing presidential candidate was forced to admit that the major insurance firm AXA was a client of his consultancy firm 2F Conseil. Between 2012 and 2014 the group paid 200,000 euros to Fillon, who was a Member of Parliament at the time. The money was apparently paid to the former prime minister because he could “open doors in Brussels and Berlin” as new European Union insurance regulations were being implemented. Mediapart's Martine Orange argues that the affair is a clear example of conflict of interest.

  • How primaries cleared out old guard from French politics

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    The list of victims of the recent presidential primary elections held by the Left and Right in France is remarkable. Two presidents, two prime ministers and a number of senior former ministers have been rejected after rebellious voters gave their verdicts. The primary process - which ended on Sunday with the unlikely election of Benoît Hamon as the official socialist candidate for the presidential contest – has proved something of an earthquake for the French political establishment, writes Hubert Huertas.

  • How Balkan dervishes have survived centuries of turmoil

    By , and Simon Rico
    Long history: the dervish Murtazar from Melan in Albania. © Laurent Geslin Long history: the dervish Murtazar from Melan in Albania. © Laurent Geslin

    They form a variety of different, disparate groups, some living in the middle of cities, others taking refuge in mountainous retreats scattered around the Balkans. But all practice the mystical Islam of Sufi religious orders, seen as a “heresy” by followers of rigorous Sunni orthodoxy from the Gulf states. Jean-Arnault Dérens, Laurent Geslin and Simon Rico look at how the Balkans' dervishes have managed to survive to this day, faced with the various challenges posed down the centuries by empire, nationalist upheaval, orthodox Islam, communism and atheism.

  • Why Hollande did a U-turn over presidential primary

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    Traditionally, incumbent French presidents do not take part in primary elections when standing for re-election and are simply anointed as their party's natural candidate. And up to now France's socialist president François Hollande has insisted he saw no need for such a contest on the Left ahead of next year's presidential election. However, out of the blue the Socialist Party has just announced plans for a primary election in January 2017 in which Hollande will take part. Hubert Huertas considers whether the surprise move will give Hollande's dwindling re-election prospects new hope - or will simply finish off his chances altogether.