Le Pen and Zemmour pass ‘parrainage’ test to run for French presidency

Far-right candidates Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour have gained enough signatures of sponsorship to be listed as candidates in the first round of this year’s French presidential elections.

Le Pen and Zemmour pass 'parrainage' test to run for French presidency
Far-right candidates Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour have reached the minimum number of sponsorships to stand in the first round of the French presidential election. (Photo: Eric Piermont / AFP)

Three days before the deadline for the signatures, known as parrainages, the Conseil Constitutionel has confirmed that Zemmour had received 620 signatures from elected officials, Le Pen had 503 signatures, while another hard-right candidate, Debout La France leader Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, had also passed the 500-signature minimum threshold to stand in the first round, with 532.

READ ALSO French elections: What is ‘parrainage’ and how does it affect candidates?

Candidates including the centre-right party’s Valérie Pécresse, centre-left party’s Anne Hidalgo and the far left’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon had already passed the 500-signature threshold, as as current president Emmanuel Macron, although he is yet to officially confirm that he is standing for re-elction.

Last week, Le Pen’s campaign announced a ‘pause’ on campaigning to ensure that their candidate had enough parrainages to stand.

Her latest bid for the Elysée received a further blow this week, after it was revealed that 1.2 million campaign leaflets had to be binned as they featured a photograph of Le Pen shaking hands with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The latest figures – which will come as a relief to both Le Pen and Zemmour, who had also struggled to reach the 500-signature figure – takes the number of candidates with enough support to run in the election to 11. The three latest names join Valérie Pécresse (2,457), Anne Hidalgo (1,318), Yannick Jadot (669), Fabien Roussel (613), Jean Lassalle (602), Nathalie Arthaud (568), Jean-Luc Mélenchon (808), and Emmanuel Macron (1,785). 

The president has yet to officially declare his intention to stand for a second term, but must do so before the deadline for parrainages on Friday, March 4th.

READ ALSO France’s Macron ‘to kick off re-election bid in March’

On that date, candidates must also provide a declaration of assets and a declaration of interests and activities to the Haute autorité pour la transparence de la vie publique

The list of candidates will be officially published on Monday, March 7th. The campaign officially starts on March 28th, and the two rounds of the election will take place on April 10th and 24th.

Sponsorship is not necessarily the same as support. Pau mayor and leader of the centrist Mouvement démocrate (MoDem) party François Bayrou revealed that he sponsored the far-right Le Pen, while Cannes mayor David Lisnard, who is a member of the centre-right Les Républicains, gave his signature to Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the far-left La France Insoumise. 

Another Republicain MP, François-Xavier Bellamy has confirmed he has sponsored Zemmour, and said that he would vote for him if he got through to the second round as an opponent to Emmanuel Macron.

Above 500
Valérie Pecresse 2,457
Emmanuel Macron 1,785
Anne Hidalgo 1,318
Jean-Luc Mélenchon 808
Yannick Jadot 669
Eric Zemmour 620
Fabien Roussel 613
Jean Lassalle 602
Natalie Arthaud 568
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan 532
Marine Le Pen 503

Below 500
Philippe Poutou 342
François Asselineau 263
Christiane Taubira 181
Anasse Kazib 144
Hélène Thouy 114

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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.