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PODCAST: Has Putin won the election for Macron and how high will French prices go?

The French presidential elections are now fully underway, so join The Local France's team and our guest experts including John Lichfield as we assess the impact of the war in Ukraine on life in France and French politics, introduce the candidates and complain about the price of a baguette.

PODCAST: Has Putin won the election for Macron and how high will French prices go?
Image: The Local

This week on Talking France, host Ben McPartland is joined by editor Emma Pearson, our political columnist John Lichfield and Sorbonne economics professor Claudia Senik as we look at the first week of official campaigning in the 2022 French presidential election.

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Click HERE to listen to Talking France on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify. 

By now you would normally expect the French newspapers, TV and radio to have wall-to-wall political coverage. Instead, of course, this has been overshadowed by the terrible events in Ukraine.

But the international turmoil is also having a direct effect on French politics.

John Lichfield tells us: “I was already of the persuasion that Macron will win, but now who else can you imagine the French electing? Zemmour or Le Pen who have a long history of supporting Putin? Mélenchon who blames Nato for everything? Pécresse who is sinking in the polls?

“I think the election is in effect over, but that in itself can cause problems. It could mean in the end that Macron’s victory is a hollow one.”

Another effect on daily life in France – and the rest of Europe – is likely to be a big jump in the cost of living, so could this cost Macron votes?

Claudia Senik thinks not, saying: “I think Macron’s recent speech was telling us that there is a price for our values – freedom, peace democracy – and the price is that the economy will suffer.”

And we’re also giving a full run-through of all the candidates – including the one who had to pulp all their election leaflets, the one who ‘forgets’ to pay for their groceries and the one who makes Ben think of The Fonz.

We will be releasing new episodes of this podcast every Tuesday. Click HERE to listen to Talking France on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify. 

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Burkina junta chief denies diplomatic split from France

Burkina Faso's junta leader said on Friday his country had not severed diplomatic ties with France, which he has asked to withdraw its forces, and denied Russian Wagner mercenaries were in the country.

Burkina junta chief denies diplomatic split from France

Former colonial power France had special forces based in the capital Ouagadougou, but its presence had come under intense scrutiny as anti-French sentiment in the region grows, with Paris withdrawing its ambassador to Burkina over the junta’s demands.

“The end of diplomatic agreements, no!” Captain Ibrahim Traore said in a television interview with Burkinabe journalists. “There is no break in diplomatic relations or hatred against a particular state.”

Traore went on to deny that there were mercenaries from the Wagner Group deployed in Burkina Faso, even as the junta has nurtured ties with Moscow.

Wagner, an infamous Russian mercenary group founded in 2014, has been involved in conflicts in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Ukraine.

“We’ve heard everywhere that Wagner is in Ouagadougou,” he said, adding that it was a rumour “created so that everybody would distance themselves from us”.

“We have our Wagner, it is the VDP that we recruit,” he said, referring to the Volunteers for the Defence of the Homeland civilian auxiliaries. “They are our Wagner.”

He said that “all the people want is their sovereignty, to live with dignity. It doesn’t mean leaving one country for another.”

Paris confirmed last month that its special forces troops, deployed to help fight a years-long jihadist insurgency, would leave within a month.

Bloody conflict

A landlocked country in the heart of West Africa’s Sahel, Burkina Faso is one of the world’s most volatile and impoverished countries.

It has been struggling with a jihadist insurgency that swept in from neighbouring Mali in 2015. Thousands of civilians, troops and police have been killed, more than two million people have fled their homes, and around 40 percent of the country lies outside the government’s control.

Anger within the military at the mounting toll sparked two coups in 2022, the most recent of which was in September, when 34-year-old Traore seized power.

He is standing by a pledge made by the preceding junta to stage elections for a civilian government by 2024.

After the ruling junta in Mali forced French troops out last year, the army officers running neighbouring Burkina Faso followed suit, asking Paris to empty its garrison.

Under President Emmanuel Macron, France was already drawing down its troops across the Sahel region, which just a few years ago numbered more than 5,000, backed up with fighter jets, helicopters and infantry fighting vehicles.

About 3,000 remain, but the forced departures from Mali and Burkina Faso — as well as the Central African Republic to the south last year — underline how anti-French winds are gathering force.