France 2020-

Written by  //  May 16, 2022  //  France  //  No comments

Elisabeth Borne appointed France’s new prime minister
(France24) President Emmanuel Macron on Monday (May 16) named Elisabeth Borne as prime minister to lead his reform plans. The 61-year-old engineer proved her loyalty to Macron during his first term, serving as transport, environment and finally labour minister from 2020.
Elisabeth Borne: Who is France’s new prime minister and what’s on her to-do list?
(Euronews with AP) Borne is the second woman to hold the position of prime minister in the country after Edith Cresson, who served from 1991 to 1992 under socialist president Francois Mitterrand.
The new prime minister’s first mission will be to make sure that Macron’s centrist party and its allies do well in France’s parliamentary election in June.
Macron also promised a bill addressing the rising cost of living in France, where food and energy prices are surging. It will be prepared by his new government and is expected to be presented just after the parliamentary election.
If Macron’s party wins a majority in the Assembly, Borne will then need to ensure that pension changes promised by the president are put into law, including raising the minimum retirement age from 62 to 65.
The proposed changes have been criticised by workers, unions and left-wing voters.
Macron also promised that the new prime minister would be directly in charge of “green planning,” seeking to accelerate France’s implementation of climate-related policies. Macron vowed to go “twice as fast” in his second term to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The first round of the 2022 French presidential election was held on 10 April 2022. As no candidate won a majority of the vote in the first round, a runoff was held between the top two candidates -Macron & LePen- on 24 April
Why the French are fed up (and what it means for Macron) | The Economist (YouTube)

Photos: Joel Saget, Eric Feferberg/AFP via Getty Images

Jeremy Kinsman: Macron Wins as France Shuns the Far Right
(Policy) It is to [Macron’s] credit he has prevailed so convincingly against Le Pen, given the mood, especially since his greatest vulnerability has been his own style which many resent as that of a privileged, remote elitist from Paris.
In June, he faces legislative elections. His own still unrooted party (La Republique en Marche) may well lose its majority, in which case he will be in the position of “cohabitation” with a quasi-adversarial prime minister, to whom, however, the Fifth Republic assigns the harsh duties of running the economy and delivery of domestic services, leaving the president to spend the next five years positioning on EU and world affairs.
No wonder the music greeting Macron at his victory celebration in front of the Eiffel Tower was the EU hymn (Beethoven’s) “Ode to Joy.”
Given the dearth of great leaders in our democracies, circumstances now place Macron, whose ambitions can be Jupiterian, as the EU’s principal personality, in tandem no doubt with Germany’s Olaf Scholz.
We are all better off.
France’s Macron is reelected but far-right rival raises game
(AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron comfortably won reelection to a second term Sunday, triggering waves of relief among allies that the nuclear-armed European Union nation won’t abruptly shift course from EU and NATO efforts to punish and contain Russia’s expansionist military attacks on Ukraine.
The second five-year term for the 44-year-old centrist spared France and Europe from the seismic upheaval of having firebrand populist Marine Le Pen at the helm, Macron’s presidential runoff challenger who quickly conceded defeat but still appeared on course for her best-ever electoral showing.
Acknowledging that “numerous” voters cast ballots for him simply to keep out the fiercely nationalist far-right Le Pen, Macron pledged to reunite the country that is “filled with so many doubts, so many divisions” and work to assuage the anger of French voters that fed Le Pen’s campaign.
With more than three-quarters of votes counted, Macron was leading 55% to 45% for Le Pen. Polling agencies projected that once all votes are counted, Macron’s margin of victory would be well above 10 points, although smaller than when they first faced off in 2017.
Macron is the first French president in 20 years to win reelection, since incumbent Jacques Chirac trounced Le Pen’s father in 2002.

22 April
Roger Cohen: Le Pen Closer Than Ever to the French Presidency (and to Putin)
As elections approach Sunday, the far-right candidate is linked to the Russian president by a web of financial ties and a history of support that has hardly dimmed despite the war in Ukraine.
(NYT) Over the past decade, Ms. Le Pen’s party, the National Rally, formerly the National Front, has borrowed millions from a Russian bank, and Ms. Le Pen has supported Mr. Putin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, as well as his incendiary meddling that year in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, where just this week Russia redoubled its offensive.
If Ms. Le Pen wins, which is not likely but possible, her victory will almost certainly fracture the allied unity engineered by President Biden in an attempt to defeat Mr. Putin. It would hand Mr. Putin by far his most important ally in Europe, one he could leverage in his aims to divide Europe from the United States and fracture Europe’s decades-old project of unity.

19 April
Macron allies warn victory not certain as poll lead over Le Pen grows
Centrist’s backers say voters still need convincing his policies are best for them ahead of presidential runoff

10-11 April
5 takeaways from the first round of France’s presidential election
First round results are trickier than they look for Macron.
(Politico Eu) France’s repeat of the 2017 run-off confirms Macron’s and Le Pen’s own political analysis: That the divide between the left and the right is no longer relevant in France and has been replaced by an opposition between a mainstream bloc that is pro-European and open to the outside world on one side, and nationalists on the other.
France’s Macron and Le Pen head to April 24 election runoff
Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen win first round
Presidential election runoff set for April 24th
Battle lines drawn between globalist and nationalist
(Reuters) – With projections putting Macron in first place ahead of Le Pen after Sunday’s first round voting, other major candidates admitted defeat. Except for another far-right candidate, Eric Zemmour, they all urged voters to back the incumbent in two weeks’ time in order to block the far-right.

4-8 April
French Election Dashboard: Everything you need to know about the presidential race
(Atlantic Council) With reelection up for grabs for President Emmanuel Macron against a slate of rivals, the Europe Center breaks down the race.
How will Russia’s war in Ukraine reshape the European political scene? Look to France.
(Atlantic Council) State-against-state warfare is back on the European continent. Governments—including those once considered neutral or risk-averse—have made decisions that had been unthinkable just weeks before: unprecedented sanctions likely to severely hurt their own economies, drastic increases in defense spending, and the delivery of lethal weapons to a country at war.
All this amounts to a new geopolitical reality that the public was not expecting. Now, voters across the continent are facing opportunities to express their views at the polls in a series of key votes.
In Hungary and Serbia, right-wing leaders Viktor Orbán and Aleksandar Vučić successfully played up their ability to protect their populations in the context of the war, convincingly winning elections last weekend. But the upcoming presidential vote in France on April 10—with a second round held April 24—may be the most significant of the lot, given the size and importance of the country.

Harrison Stetler: The Man at the Center of the French Election Isn’t Even on the Ballot
(NYT) Like the rest of Europe, France is gripped by the war in Ukraine. Days from the first round of the presidential election here, the incumbent, Emmanuel Macron, hopes to prevail with what was, for much of the last two months, a muted campaign in which he posed as a steady hand in a time of global instability.
But for all the talk of a united West, the truth is that a noxious blend of oligarchy, nostalgia and bellicose nationalism is ever more ubiquitous on this side of the new Iron Curtain. In France, it is led by a buoyant and confident new right, represented in this election by Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally; Valérie Pécresse of the ostensibly moderate Republicans; and Éric Zemmour, the pugilistic proto-fascist commentator turned candidate.
Behind them all, to one degree or another, is someone not even on the ballot: the media mogul Vincent Bolloré. The scion of an old industrial family, Mr. Bolloré wields a fearsome agenda-setting power; his outlets, known for adopting the flair, tics and style of Fox News, play an outsize role in directing the national debate. The three candidates from the right — and much of the political class, in fact — recycle, in varying shades, messages that run on a loop on his networks.
Even Before France Votes, the French Right Is a Big Winner
(NYT) The dominance of right-wing ideas in France’s presidential election campaign follows years of cultural wars waged successfully by conservatives on television, in social media and in think tanks.
Despite a late surge by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leading left-wing candidate, virtually the entire French campaign has been fought on the right and far right, whose candidates dominate the polls and whose themes and talking points — issues of national identity, immigration and Islam — have dominated the political debate. The far right has even become the champion of pocketbook issues, traditionally the left’s turf.
Mr. Macron himself has pivoted to the right so consistently to confront the challenge that there is even discussion now of whether he should be regarded as a center-right president, though he emerged from a government run by the now-moribund Socialists in 2017.
French election poll: Macron to beat Le Pen but Le Pen gains ground
(Reuters)The poll showed Macron would lead in the first round of votes on April 10, with 26.5% versus 21.5% for Le Pen in second place. Those figures compared to 28% for Macron and 17.5% for Le Pen in the last poll conducted March 21-24, said Ipsos Sopra Steria Cevipof.
The poll showed Macron would lead in the first round of votes on April 10, with 26.5% versus 21.5% for Le Pen in second place. Those figures compared to 28% for Macron and 17.5% for Le Pen in the last poll conducted March 21-24, said Ipsos Sopra Steria Cevipof.
Macron would then beat Le Pen in the second round run-off vote on April 24 by 54% to 46%
Macron urges voters to turn out for election first round as polls tighten
(The Guardian) President leads the far right’s Marine Le Pen by more than six points in France but result is still uncertain, analysts say

2021

9 December
Just How Frightening Is France’s New Right?
I witnessed Éric Zemmour electrify a seething and violent mob.
By Thomas Chatterton Williams
(The Atlantic) In October, Éric Zemmour, the best-selling French author and media personality who has won a devoted following by applying a throwback intellectual sheen to a familiar populist xenophobia, overtook France’s far-right standard-bearer, Marine Le Pen, in the polls for this April’s presidential election. He officially declared his candidacy at the end of November and held his first campaign rally in Paris last Sunday. The event, originally scheduled for the 9,000-seat Zénith arena, quickly needed to be relocated to the much larger Parc des Expositions, a massive conference center in the Parisian suburb of Villepinte, a short cab ride from Charles de Gaulle Airport and half an hour by train from Gare du Nord.

18 October
Éric Zemmour: the far-right polemicist’s ideas have a long history in France
(The Conversation) Éric Zemmour has become a household name in France. Buoyed by repeated appearances on French television news shows, including the conservative channel CNews (often referred to as the French version of Fox News), Zemmour is widely assumed to be considering a run for president in 2022.
A recent poll saw him predicted to reach the second round of voting alongside current president, Emmanuel Macron, out-performing Zemmour’s potential rival on the far-right, Marine Le Pen.

28 June
4 takeaways from French local elections
All bets are off ahead of the presidential race in 2022.
(Politico Eu) Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, the frontrunners for next year’s French presidential vote, saw their parties defeated in dramatic fashion Sunday evening, with both failing to gain control of a single region in the second round of local elections.
The failure of the disruptors to disrupt on Sunday, when the French voted in run-off ballots for 13 regional councils across metropolitan France and for 94 départements after a first round last weekend, allowed their conservative Les Républicains (LR) rivals to emerge in fighting form ahead of the 2022 race.
Here are four takeaways from the regional elections.
1. Marine Le Pen battered
2. Macron’s reelection bid under threat
3. The conservatives get their groove back
4. A crowded scene
As a snapshot of France, the regional elections show a political scene that is both crowded and divided.
The emergence of Macron’s LREM, the strength of the National Rally and the disunity on the left means there has never been more choice for the electorate. In the greater Paris region, voters had four leftwing candidates to choose from, all pitching a mix of green and welfare proposals.
In seven regions, four lists of candidates made it to the runoffs; in two regions — Brittany and Nouvelle-Aquitaine — there were five different parties to choose from. Tactical voting in these elections proved a nightmare.

26 May
France’s Macron seeks forgiveness over Rwandan genocide
Clement Uwiringiyimana
(Reuters) French President Emmanuel Macron said he recognised his country’s role in the Rwandan genocide and hoped for forgiveness at a memorial in Kigali on Thursday, seeking to reset relations after years of Rwandan accusations that France was complicit in the 1994 atrocities.
The visit follows the release in March of a report by a French inquiry panel that said a colonial attitude had blinded French officials, who were close to the Hutu-led government of the time. The report blamed France for not foreseeing the slaughter and said the government bore a “serious and overwhelming” responsibility.

7 May
Macron calls on US, UK to stop ‘blocking’ vaccines
French president renews calls for rich nations to share vaccine doses with poorer nations.
(Politico.eu) France was the first member of the group of seven rich nations known as the G-7 to donate doses, but Macron has been under pressure recently for not clearly supporting a proposal to lift intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines, an idea the U.S. backed on Wednesday.
Responding to a question by reporters upon his arrival to the EU Social Summit in Porto, Macron defended his position. “What’s the issue right now? It’s not really about intellectual property; you can give it to a lab that won’t know how to produce it — the first issue is giving doses,” Macron said. “The second pillar for the vaccines to circulate it’s not to block ingredients and the vaccines; today the Anglo-Saxons are blocking a lot of ingredients and vaccines.
In April, France gave 100,000 doses to Mauritania through the international vaccine provision initiative COVAX.
France only started producing vaccine shots in March, after it benefited from a transfer of technologies to produce mRNA vaccines. No French pharmaceutical company or laboratory has so far succeeded in developing an in-house COVID-19 vaccine.

6 May
Brigitte Granville: France’s Culture War Intensifies
With his speech commemorating the 200th anniversary of Napoleon Bonaparte’s death, President Emmanuel Macron apparently is seeking to confront all aspects of the emperor’s divisive legacy. How he manages that characteristic balancing act could reveal much about his ability to keep France’s simmering culture war from boiling over.
(Project Syndicate)
Napoleon’s legacy has long been divisive. His admirers laud his role in creating the modern French state; his detractors condemn him as a colonizer who enslaved millions. But the issue has become particularly incendiary today, in the aftermath of the publication last month of an open letter by 20 retired generals.
… To improve his chances in this race, Macron will have to make himself stand out from the rest of the field, by reaffirming the distinctively “universalist” French ideal of citizenship – one that, unlike multiculturalism, transcends racial origins and religious belief.
On a more practical level, Macron would do well to redirect more of the country’s vast public spending away from the bureaucracy and toward the most basic functions of the state – beginning with the criminal-justice system. France’s police force is far from perfect, but it cannot be expected to improve without adequate resources, which are woefully lacking today.
Macron should also make concrete conciliatory gestures to those on both sides of the culture war. For example, a commitment to “zero-tolerance” policing in the banlieue could appease one side, while progress toward de-criminalizing drugs could appease the other, by reducing the potential perils of such enhanced policing.

5 May
Startups and the State: Growing French Tech
In less than a decade France has gone from tech backwater to the startup engine of the EU. It recently celebrated its 12th company to achieve a $1 billion valuation and is well on the way to President Macron’s goal of “25 unicorns by 2025.” Kat Borlongan, director of La French Tech, joins Azeem Azhar to explore how her government task force has been working to effectively drive growth in the French startup scene.
They also discuss:
Why achieving tech sovereignty has become a key motivator for governments.
How France’s visa scheme is part of their offensive strategy to attract top tech talent.
Why the French government is directly investing in startups via public investment bank Bpifrance.

Macron Closes Elite French School in Bid to Diversify Public Service
The institution had become a symbol of privilege in a society where social mobility has broken down.
Roger Cohen
There are elite schools and then there is ENA, the small French graduate college that has turned out presidents and prime ministers with such cookie-cutter consistency that it is no exaggeration to say France has been run by its “énarques.”
President Emmanuel Macron attended the Strasbourg-based finishing school for top civil servants. So did the two prime ministers he has appointed. So did his predecessor, François Hollande. So did Jacques Chirac. At a time of growing social fracture, no other institution has symbolized a clubby, mostly male French elitism as vividly as the Ecole Nationale d’Administration.
Now, it’s gone. Mr. Macron announced on Thursday the closure of ENA, and its replacement by a new Institute of Public Service, or ISP, as part of what he called a “deep revolution in recruitment for public service.”

15 April
Notre-Dame Cathedral fire: Two years on, how is restoration work going at the Paris landmark?
(Euronews) Two years since the devastating fire that nearly destroyed Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Gothic icon has still not been fully secured. …
[Monsignor Patrick] Chauvet added the actual restoration project could start officially by the end of the year, and he hopes mass can be held in 2024.
French President Emmanuel Macron has set that year as his goal for finishing the interior restoration for the cathedral, in line with when Paris will host the Olympics.
Securing the cathedral has been a necessary but costly first step of the process, estimated at €160 million. It involved removing the stained glass windows, checking the gargoyles, removing rubble and installing protective nets in the choir to catch falling stones.
It has been complicated by scaffolding that had been erected for renovation works prior to the blaze at the tourist attraction. The fire melted the scaffolding, leaving around 200-tonnes of tangled web of burnt metal to deal with.
Brand new scaffolding has now been installed so that the condition of the vaults can be studied closely.

10 April
France’s Far Right Is Setting the Agenda Because the Mainstream Allows It To
Ahead of the 2022 election, French media are presenting an inevitable duel between incumbent Emmanuel Macron and the “populist” Marine Le Pen. Yet for decades we’ve seen how this liberal framing fuels far-right talking points — echoing Le Pen’s false claim to stand for those “left behind” against the status quo.
(Jacobin) A year ahead of France’s 2022 presidential election, countless articles have been written about the threat posed by the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, leader of the Rassemblement National. With no particular attention paid to the French system or the current context, we are often told that she is the main contender to the presidency and the embattled Emmanuel Macron’s only real opponent. As always, opinion polls are mustered to push the message that this is what the people want. That it is not yet clear who the candidates will actually be — and whether a unified left-wing alternative could arise — does not seem to bother anyone with access to public discourse. The dice have already been rolled, and they seem loaded anyway.

2 April
As Covid cases in France surge, Macron’s superman image is fading fast
(The Guardian) The president may no longer be in denial, but the situation in some parts of France appears to be very much out of control. Daily Covid cases have reached 59,000 compared with the UK’s 4,000, and hospitals are straining under the pressure; some doctors worry that they may soon need to start prioritising those who will have the greatest chance of successful treatment.
The issue of intensive care bed capacity has been a thorn in Macron’s side for the past year. In March 2020, the health minister promised to increase the number of beds to 14,000. One year later, doctors and nurses are accusing the government of having largely broken its pledge. Most of these beds never materialised, and France’s hospitals appear unable to cope with the challenges of the pandemic.

26 March
France not complicit in Rwanda genocide, says Macron commission
Report says France did not do enough to halt the 1994 killings but found no evidence of complicity

9 March
French oaks from once-royal forest felled to rebuild Notre Dame spire
Trees to help replace spire destroyed in 2019 blaze found in Forest of Bercé that once belonged to French kings
Last July amid a public outcry, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, ended speculation that the 19th century peak designed by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc could be rebuilt in a modern style. He announced it would be rebuilt exactly as it was before. And that began a nationwide tree hunt, culminating in a painstaking selection in January and February of this year.
About 1,000 oaks in more than 200 French forests, both private and public, were chosen to make the frame of the cathedral transept and spire – destined to be admired on the Paris skyline for potentially hundreds of years.
On Tuesday, chainsaw-wielding tree surgeons in Bercé scaled the special oaks to fell them in a race against the clock. All 1,000 must be “harvested” by the end of March, otherwise harmful tree sap and moisture could enter the wood fibres.
Ken Follett gives book proceeds to French cathedral restoration fund
Author donates proceeds from book about Notre-Dame fire to project to save cathedral in Brittany
Follet is giving €148,000 (£127,000) towards a multimillion euro project to save Saint-Samson de Dol-de-Bretagne cathedral.
The sum is what he has made from his book Notre-Dame: a Short History of the Meaning of Cathedrals, written after the Paris monument was ravaged by fire in April 2019, which has sold 113,000 copies worldwide.

2020

9 July
Notre Dame spire must be rebuilt exactly as it was, says chief architect
After fierce debate about 19th-century spire, consensus builds over restoration of fire-torn cathedral
Reconstruction work must begin with the delicate removal of 50,000 tubes of twisted scaffolding at back of the edifice, a task that Jean-Louis Georgelin, the retired army general in charge of the project, said last month should be completed by September, allowing rebuilding work to begin early next year.
Macron has said he wants the cathedral restored to its former glory by 2024, in time for the Paris Olympics, a timetable Georgelin said was possible “if everyone rolls up their sleeves”, but the process has been plagued by delays due to bad weather, health concerns over lead pollution and, most recently, the coronavirus crisis.

17 February
France’s Challenge in Africa
The Libyan revolution of 2011 brought lasting terrorist mayhem across a broad reach of Africa’s former French colonies. Now France needs its allies to help pacify the region — if that can be done.
By Sylvie Kauffmann, editorial director of Le Monde.
(NYT) The French, whose troops have been fighting in the Sahel for seven years, ask few questions about their involvement. They should. In this crucible where Islamist insurgency, ancient local conflicts, fragile states, European hesitations and a shifting American strategy make an explosive mix, it is a war they may well be losing — or, in the best case, a war they may never win.
Welcome to the unforgiving, thankless fight against jihadis in the Sahel, an African region south of the Sahara as large as Europe, where 4,500 French troops were deployed in January 2013 to prevent the capital of Mali, Bamako, from falling to Al Qaeda. It is now the epicenter of the world’s fastest-growing Islamist-led insurgency. Two weeks ago, the French government decided to send 600 extra troops to the Sahel. Hardly a surge, but a clear sign that “avoiding the worst” is proving more and more difficult.
Bamako was saved, but since then Islamist groups linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State have spread to neighboring Niger and Burkina Faso. After killing more than 4,000 people last year and displacing more than a million, these groups are now threatening four coastal West African countries south of Burkina Faso, a state that, as the International Crisis Group warned recently, may provide “a perfect launching pad” for operations in Benin, Togo, Ghana and Ivory Coast.

14 February
France to limit access to Mont Blanc after ‘aberrant behaviour’ of tourists
French president Emmanuel Macron, while on a visit to the French Alps on Thursday, announced that a protected area would be declared around the mountain, which is facing the double threat of climate change and irresponsible tourism.
Recent incidents have included a British tourist abandoning a rowing machine on the famed mountain, a German tourist making the ascent with his dog against the rules, and two Swiss climbers landing a small plane just east of the summit before hiking to the top.
Macron announced the changes on a visit to Mont Blanc where he also viewed the rapidly shrinking Mont Blanc glacier.
The French Alps resorts facing a future with no snow
The Alps are particularly exposed to the ravaging effects of global warming.
According to the International Commission for the Protection of the Alps (CIPRA), temperatures in the mountain range have risen by nearly 2C in the past 120 years – almost double the global average – and will continue on the same upward trend.

Leave a Comment

comm comm comm