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

    By Hubert Huertas
    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?

    By Hubert Huertas
    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'

    By Mathilde Goanec

    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

    By martine orange
    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

    By Hubert Huertas

    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 Jean-Arnault Dérens, Laurent Geslin 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

    By Hubert Huertas

    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.

  • The mad week that was: from the 'Butler tapes' to Omar Raddad

    By Hubert Huertas

    Last week, journalists from Mediapart and weekly news magazine Le Point stood trial on ‘invasion of privacy’ charges for having published secretly-recorded conversations that revealed corruption and profiteering by the entourage of L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt. The prosecution has demanded they receive symbolic fines, and a verdict will be delivered in January. Meanwhile, the tax administration demanded the online press make backpayments for VAT rates that no longer apply. The week was capped by developments in a long-running murder case where the possible proof of a shameful miscarriage of justice remains buried by inertia. Hubert Huertas pulls on a common thread linking all three events.

  • Raymond Barre, professor-turned-French PM and inventor of 'competitive deflation'

    By Philippe Riès
     © DR. © DR.

    Raymond Barre served as conservative prime minister of France between 1976 and 1981 during the first episode of an economic crisis whose repercussions are far from over. Little known outside of France, the late Barre was an economics professor who became a politician almost by accident, a statesman who was better at wielding power than winning it. Historian Christiane Rimbaud has recently published a biography of the man who was the first to liberalise France's highly administered, regulated and planned post-war economy. Her book is reviewed here by Mediapart economics writer Philippe Riès, himself once a student of Barre’s, and who argues that the conservative was a much more nuanced political figure than he is often depicted.

     

  • A child in a suitcase: behind the X-ray

    By La Parisienne Liberee

    Mediapart’s resident singer and songwriter La Parisienne Libérée regularly contributes a critical review of current affairs in music, images and text. Here she returns to the story of Adou Ouattara, an eight-year-old Ivorian boy who was discovered on May 7th hidden in a suitcase carried by a Moroccan woman crossing the border into Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta. Adou was found after the baggage was X-rayed, and the disturbing image of the scan was later published around the world. La Parisienne Libérée takes up the story from there.