Chronicles

  • A tale of dosh and France's complex reaction to money

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    President Emmanuel Macron's recent reference to the “shedloads of dosh” that the state pays out in benefits has sparked a lot of discussion about money in France. The controversial phrase was followed by revelations about a huge payout awarded to the outgoing chief executive of a major French company, a controversy over the cost of presidential crockery and a mini-row over footballers' pay. But as Hubert Huertas explains, how people in France react to discussions about money depends on where that money comes from - and who is receiving it.

  • Macron's high-risk spring as he faces worker discontent

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    The rail strike will be a big test of Emmanuel Macron's presidency. The rail strike will be a big test of Emmanuel Macron's presidency.

    This week is the start of a critical period in Emmanuel Macron's presidency. Workers from the rail industry, Air France and the supermarket chain Carrefour have been taking industrial action while students have held sit-ins at a number of universities. The government says that these various actions with their different causes show an irrational fear of the “new world” that is dawning. In fact, argues Hubert Huertas, these protests stem from a weariness with years of talk about the need for austerity and reform - and they could yet threaten the presidency's power.

  • The dangers of Macron's planned law on 'fake news'

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    At the start of the New Year President Emmanuel Macron told a gathering of journalists that his government was preparing a new law to clamp down on 'fake news' on social media. But already the French media are wondering whether an attack on 'fake news', however desirable, would not end up damaging freedom of information in general. Hubert Huertas looks at the pitfalls presented by the plan.

  • Macron v Macron: president's biggest challenge in 2018 comes from himself

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    Addressing the nation: Presisdent Emmanuel Macron on December 31st, 2017. Addressing the nation: Presisdent Emmanuel Macron on December 31st, 2017.

    “I did it in 2017....I will do it in 2018”. On Sunday December 31st, President Emmanuel Macron delivered his first New Year goodwill message to the French people. Just 12 months ago no one imagined that he would be the occupant of the Élysée. Even last summer, when he had been elected, no one thought he would be in a strong position. Yet here he is, and his political situation looks robust. But it is a little too early for the new president to get out the bunting just yet. For Hubert Huertas argues that President Macron is about to face his biggest political 'opponent' – himself.

  • 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.