Former French President Hollande criticizes Macron, warns he has ‘not retired’ from politics

Former French president Francois Hollande said on Wednesday he has not turned his back on politics, after criticizing his successor and former protégé in the Elysee Palace, Emmanuel Macron.

Former French President Hollande criticizes Macron, warns he has 'not retired' from politics
Macron and Hollande pictured at their handover ceremony. Photo: AFP

“Even when I decided… not to stand (for re-election) I had said I would not retire from political life,” the Socialist Hollande, 63, told TV5 Monde television.

The former president on Tuesday said the 39-year-old Macron should not “demand needless sacrifices from the French”.

Macron, elected in May, has come under fire for budget and public spending cuts.

The former investment banker launched his presidential bid in August last year, promising to overcome France's entrenched right-left divide.

Hollande had plucked Macron from virtual obscurity to make him his financial advisor before naming him economy minister in 2014.

READ ALSO: How Emmanuel Macron went from top of the class to president of France

The former president on Tuesday questioned Macron's moves to “make the job market more flexible than we already have.”

He issued the warning as Macron's Labour Minister Muriel Penicaud began meetings with union leaders over labour reforms, an issue that sparked a series of sometimes violent protests across France last year.

On May 14th, the day Macron was inaugurated, Hollande said of his own political future “you should never say never in life”.

Even if “the temptation to intervene can be great,” Hollande said, he did not want to be a “backseat driver” during the first days and weeks of the Macron presidency.

Hollande had record low approval ratings after failing to make good on his pledge to rein in unemployment, which stagnated at around ten percent throughout most of his five years in office.

He decided in December not to stand for re-election.

The Socialists' candidate Benoit Hamon finished a humiliating fifth place as voters abandoned the former ruling party, crippled by deep ideological divisions.

OPINION: Hollande doesn't deserve to go down in history as 'France's most unpopular president'


France proposes getting rid of penalties for ‘minor’ speeding offences

The French government is considering changing speeding laws so that drivers will not lose points on their licence if they are caught going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

France proposes getting rid of penalties for 'minor' speeding offences

France’s Interior Ministry is considering changing its current rules for minor speeding violations – proposing getting rid of the penalty for drivers who only violate the rule by going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

The Ministry has not laid out a timeline for when this could come into effect, but they said they are currently in the preliminary stages of studying how the change could be carried out.

“The fine of course remains,” said the Interior Ministry to French daily Le Parisien.

That is to say you can still be fined for going five kilometres over the speed limit, but there might not be any more lost points for driving a couple kilometres over the posted limit. 

READ ALSO These are the offences that can cost you points on your driving licence

Of the 13 million speeding tickets issued each year in France, 58 percent are for speeding violations of less than 5 km per hour over the limit, with many coming from automated radar machines.

How does the current rule work?

The rule itself is already a bit flexible, depending on where the speeding violation occurs.

If the violation happens in an urban area or low-speed zone (under 50 km per hour limit), then it is considered a 4th class offence, which involves a fixed fine of €135. Drivers can also lose a point on their licences as a penalty for this offence. 

Whereas, on highways and high-speed roads, the consequences of speeding by 5 km per hour are less severe. The offence is only considered 3rd class, which means the fixed fine is €68. There is still the possibility of losing a point on your licence, however. 

How do people feel about this?

Pierre Chasseray, a representative from the organisation “40 Millions d’Automobilistes,” thinks the government should do away with all penalties for minor speeding offences, including fines. He told French daily Le Parisien that this is only a “first step.”

Meanwhile, others are concerned that the move to get rid of points-deductions could end up encouraging people to speed, as they’ll think there is no longer any consequence.

To avoid being accused of carelessness, France’s Interior Ministry is also promising to become “firmer” with regards to people who use other people’s licences in order to get out of losing points – say by sending their spouse’s or grandmother’s instead of their own after being caught speeding. The Interior Ministry plans to digitalise license and registration in an effort to combat this. 

Ultimately, if you are worried about running out of points on your licence, there are still ways to recover them.

You can recover your points after six months of driving without committing any other offences, and there are also awareness training courses that allow you to gain your points back. It should be noted, however, that these trainings typically cost between €150 and €250, and they do not allow you to regain more than four points.