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What does it mean that France is extending its state of health emergency until June?

The French parliament has agreed to extend the country's state of health emergency until June 1st - but what does this designation actually mean?

What does it mean that France is extending its state of health emergency until June?
Photo: AFP

The Assemblée national on Wednesday voted in favour of extending the state of health emergency. The proposal still needs to go before the Senate, but the government hopes to have it in place before February 16th, when the current emergency designation runs out.

France first declared a state of health emergency over the Covid pandemic on March 24th 2020 and that ran until July 10th.

In July, ministers decided it was not necessary to extend it “in view of the positive evolution of the health situation at this stage”.

However the worsening situation meant that on October 17th the state of emergency was reimposed until February 16th 2021. It now seems likely to run until at last June, with options to extend again.

But what does such a declaration mean?

Being in a State of Health Emergency does not in itself have any impact on daily life, but all types of State of Emergency give governments extra powers.

Under the powers of the state of health emergency, the government is able to introduce sweeping measures that dramatically curtail daily life, such as the two strict lockdowns that France has seen this year.

The powers also enable the government to make decisions quickly and not require the full process through the Assemblée nationale and the Senate, as is usually the case with major pieces of legislation – although the spring lockdown and easing of lockdown were debated by both parliaments.

When the first state of health emergency lapsed in July, government passed a bill that gave lesser powers to introduce local controls if the health situation required it.

However the return to a state of emergency in October was shortly afterwards followed by the reintroduction of lockdown on October 30th.

Having a state of emergency that runs until June does not mean that restrictions such as curfews and bar closures will remain in place until then, but it gives the government options to impose restrictions if it feels they are necessary.

 

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POLITICS

Rugby tickets, coffee and stickers – French presidential candidates chastised over expenses claims

From coffee runs to rugby tickets and professional photos - France's election financing body has revealed some of the items it has refused to reimburse from the 2022 presidential race.

Rugby tickets, coffee and stickers - French presidential candidates chastised over expenses claims

Spending on the election trail is tightly regulated in France, with maximum campaign spends per candidate as well as a list of acceptable expenses that can be reimbursed.

In France the State pays at least some of the election campaign costs, with the budget calculated according to how many votes the candidate ends up getting. 

READ MORE: 5 things to know about French election campaign financing

On Friday, the government body (la Commission nationale des comptes de campagne et des financements politiques – or CNCCFP) released its findings for the 12 candidates who ran in the April 2022 presidential campaign. 

All of the candidates had their accounts approved, but 11 out of the 12 were refused reimbursement on certain items. Here are some of the items that did not get CNCCFP approval;

Rugby tickets 

Jean Lassalle – the wildcard ‘pro farmer’ candidate who received about three percent of votes cast in the first round of the 2022 election – bought “19 tickets to attend a rugby match” according to the CNCCFP’s findings. The organisation said it would not be reimbursing the tickets and questioned “the electoral nature of the event”. 

The total cost of the tickets was €465 (or €24.50 each).

Too many coffees

Socialist candidate, and current mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo reportedly spent at least €1,600 on coffee for her team during the campaign.

According to the CNCCFP, however, the caffeine needed to keep a presidential campaign running did not qualify under the country’s strict campaign financing rules.

Too many stickers

Hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s was told that the 1.2 million stickers that were bought – to the tune of €28,875 – to advertise the campaign would not be reimbursed. Mélenchon justified the purchasing of the stickers – saying that in the vast majority of cases they were used to build up visibility for campaign events, but CNCCFP ruled that “such a large number” was not justified. 

Mélenchon was not the only one to get in trouble for his signage. Extreme-right candidate Éric Zemmour was accused of having put up over 10,000 posters outside official places reserved for signage. The same went for the far-right’s Marine Le Pen, who decided to appeal the CNCCFP’s decision not to reimburse €300,000 spent on putting posters of her face with the phrase “M la France” on 12 campaign buses.

Poster pictures

Emmanuel Macron – who won re-election in 2022 – will not be reimbursed for the €30,000 spent on a professional photographer Soazig de la Moissonière, who works as his official photographer and took the picture for his campaign poster. 

The CNCCFP said that Macron’s team had “not sufficiently justified” the expenditure.

Expensive Airbnbs

Green party member Yannick Jadot reportedly spent €6,048 on Airbnbs in the city of Paris for some of his campaign employees – an expense that the CNCCFP said that public funds would not cover.

Translating posters

The campaign finance body also refused to reimburse the Mélenchon campaign’s decision to translate its programme into several foreign languages at a cost of €5,398.

The CNCCFP said that they did not consider the translations to be “an expense specifically intended to obtain votes” in a French election.

Best and worst in class

The extreme-right pundit Zemmour had the largest amount of money not reimbursed. Zemmour created a campaign video that used film clips and historic news footage without permission and also appeared on CNews without declaring his candidacy – because of these two offences, CNCCFP has reduced his reimbursement by €200,000. He has been hit with a separate bill of €70,000 after he was found guilty of copyright infringement over the campaign video. 

The star pupil was Nathalie Arthaud, high-school teacher and candidate for the far-left Lutte Ouvriere party, who apparently had “completely clean accounts”. A CNCCFP spokesperson told Le Parisien that if all candidate accounts were like Arthauds’, then “we would be unemployed”.

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