Opinions

  • Why Hollande's ruling majority has dissolved into an imposing minority

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    French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Monday handed President François Hollande the resignation of his entire government following fierce public criticism of its austerity policies made this weekend by economy minister Arnaud Montebourg and education minister Benoît Hamon. The exit from government of Montebourg and Hamon was joined by culture minister Aurélie Filippetti, who announced on Monday her own opposition to continuing austerity measures. Hollande has asked Valls to appoint a new government, to be announced on Tuesday, that is "consistent with the direction" set by the president. In this analysis of a unique set of events since the founding of France’s Fifth Republic constitution in 1958, Mediapart political affairs correspondent Hubert Huertas argues that Hollande has turned a ruling majority into such an imposing minority that a return to the urns is demanded.

  • Palestine: Mr President, you are leading France astray

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    From his alignment with the Israeli far-right to the banning of demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinian people, and the suggestion that this show of solidarity is in fact anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism, French President François Hollande has lost his way, writes Mediapart editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel. In this opinion article presented as an open letter to the head of state, he argues that Hollande has adopted a position of incoherence and hypocrisy that will bring him no political gain and which ignores the lessons of history.

  • The midnight hour approaches for France

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    The results in France of the European Parliament elections held on May 25th saw a landslide victory for the far-right Front National party, amid the disintegration of the Left and the collapse of the mainstream Right, choked by scandals and internal divisions. The worst-case scenario for French democracy is now an imminent possibility, writes Mediapart’s editor François Bonnet who argues here why, unless there is a major change to political dynamics, the far-right now has a real chance of taking the French presidency.

  • In defence of Jérôme Kerviel

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     © Reuters © Reuters

    In a dramatic move, the convicted trader Jérôme Kerviel has called on President François Hollande to offer immunity for key witnesses. These witnesses, he says, would throw a very different light on his conviction in 2010 as a “rogue trader” who lost his bank Société Générale almost 5 billion euros. Returning from a long walk to Rome, Kerviel initially said he would not set foot on French soil to start his three-year prison sentence until the president gave his response, but later crossed the border. Here Mediapart's Martine Orange makes an impassioned plea in defence of Kerviel, whom she argues has been deprived of the right of a fair and just trial to which everyone is entitled. For six years, she says, he has come up against a justice system that was blind and deaf to its own considerable shortcomings in the affair.

  • Rwanda: the dishonour of France

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    The French government pulled out of the commemorations on Monday April 7th that marked the twentieth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. This abrupt decision was provoked by the recent comments of Rwandan president Paul Kagamé about “the direct role of Belgium and France in the political preparation of the genocide, and the participation of the latter in its actual execution”, remarks which have sparked outrage in France. But though France's reaction was in line with former foreign minister Alain Juppé's demand that the government should “defend France's honour”, Mediapart's Editor-in-Chief Edwy Plenel argues that the decision not to attend the commemorations is instead a sign of France's dishonour over the tragic affair.

  • Why we should say goodbye to France's First Lady...forever

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    Last Saturday, January 25th, President François Hollande announced via the French news agency AFP that he had separated from his partner and 'First Lady' the journalist Valérie Trierweiler, two weeks after the revelation of his relationship with the actress Julie Gayet. Inevitably the issue has raised questions about whether the status of First Lady should exist at all in France. In June 2012 Mediapart's Editor-in-Chief Edwy Plenel wrote an article on this issue in the wake of the row caused by Valérie Trierweiler's Tweet supporting an election rival of Hollande's former partner Ségolène Royal. He argued then that it was time for the Hollande presidency to bid farewell to the fictitious notion of a First Lady or risk falling prey to the same blurring of public and private interests that characterised the Sarkozy years. Republished now, Edwy Plenel's words have a prophetic ring to them.

  • The smokescreen of French privacy laws

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    Tepid French public reaction to political scandals, and also to the romantic affairs of presidents, is often at odds with how the same events would be judged in other developed countries. In parallel to this, France has some of the toughest laws in Europe protecting personal privacy – and which are now cited in legal action taken against the magazine Closer by actress Julie Gayet following its revelations of her secret relationship with President François Hollande. Here, Philippe Riès argues that the privacy laws used by politicians is too often a tool to disguise the institutionalised excesses and corruption of a monarchic elite, served by a largely submissive media and reinforced by a puzzling public indifference that places democracy in danger.

  • Why we unite against anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonné - but don't want to ban him

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    The French interior minister Manuel Valls has sent out tough new instructions to regional prefects encouraging them to ban shows in the imminent nation-wide tour by controversial comedian Dieudonné who stands accused of virulent anti-Semitism. The French president François Hollande has joined the debate, urging the prefects to be 'vigilant and inflexible' in the way they treat the comic. Some have now banned shows in their areas. Mediapart has been warning of Dieudonné's obsessive anti-Semitism for five years. But, as editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel here argues, banning the comedian's shows runs the risks of the socialist government falling into the age-old trap of democracies who undermine their own fundamental freedoms in the name of law and order. This politics of fear, he says, which uses the threat of chaos to undermine democracy, belongs to governments of the Right.

  • Who wants to kill off Mediapart?

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    In France, the online press is officially subject to a VAT rate of 19.6%, while the printed press is subject to a VAT rate of 2.1%. This discriminatory tax on the online press has been dismissed as an injustice by successive governments over the past five years, leading to a suspension of its collection by the tax authorities. Mediapart, which with other online press organizations has led a high-profile campaign to have it removed, has for several years openly adopted the same VAT rate as the printed press. But suddenly, the tax authorities this month demanded that Mediapart pay the VAT rate of 19.6%, with backpayments due on every year since it launched in 2008. It has now been informed of the first tax adjustment, concerning the years from 2008 to 2010. Here, editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel details the gigantic sums demanded, and why this sudden and rushed move is plainly designed to put this wholly independent online journal, whose revelatory investigations have shaken administrations past and present, to the sword.  

  • Mandela's lesson of force and finesse

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    Deux vidéos dans l'article Deux vidéos dans l'article

    The death of Nelson Mandela, figurehead of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and who became the country's first black president, is being mourned around the world. His disappearance on Thursday, at the age of 95, amid heightened tension over next year’s parliamentary elections, now leaves the ideals of the Rainbow Nation that succeeded the apartheid regime under threat. Here, Mediapart’s Antoine Perraud pays a personal tribute to a man whose unusual combination of force, fraternity and finesse hoisted him to a political and moral highground. But he begins by underlining the role humour also played in overturning a regime of hate.