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2022 FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Today in France: The latest news from the 2022 French presidential election

Each weekday our early morning roundup 'Today in France' takes a look at the latest news, events and gossip from the campaign trail - here's what is happening on Wednesday.

Today in France: The latest news from the 2022 French presidential election
Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

Moneybags

As part of the process of standing for president, all candidates must declare all their assets, which are published by the Haute autorité de transparence de la vie publique (High authority for transparency in public life). As the name suggests, this is supposed to be in the interests of transparency and honesty, but we rather suspect that most people read these in the spirit of celebrity gossip magazines. We’re not above that, obviously so here goes . . . 

Top of the wealth table is centre-right candidate Valérie Pécresse, worth €10m including three houses, an original Joàn Miro artwork, healthy bank accounts and €1 million of shares in General Electric, the company her husband works for.

Far-right candidate Eric Zemmour also appears comfortable (at least financially, see below) owning or part-owning five apartments, including one worth €1.8 million.

Emmanuel ‘président des riches‘ Macron doesn’t appear to be all that rich, declaring six bank accounts but no property. His wife Brigitte has a home in Le Touquet, where the couple are registered to vote, which dates from the days of her first marriage. He has received €900,000 in pre-tax salary during his five years as president.

At the other end of the wealth scale we have green candidate Yannick Jadot, who doesn’t own a car but does have a €4,000 electric scooter, Trotskyist Philippe Poutou who drives a Peugeot 308 and Communist Fabien Roussel and sovereigntist Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, who were both into their overdrafts when the declarations were made. 

Assault allegations

The French investigative journalism website Mediapart has published an investigation in which 8 women accused far-right candidate Eric Zemmour of inappropriate behaviour and sexual assault.

These claims date from 1999 to 2019 and refer to his previous career – before standing for election he was a journalist, author and TV pundit. The accusations include groping, forced kisses and sexual propositioning of mainly interns and trainees. Zemmour declined to comment to Mediapart, but his team said the accusations were “pathetic” and “recycled testimonies”.  

The revelations come the week after Zemmour was the subject of a story in Le Canard Enchaîné which revealed that he had walked out of a posh Paris department store without paying for his purchases. Also last week he was ordered to pay €70,000 for breaching copyright in his campaign launch video.

OPINION: An election walk-over for Macron could see a return of ‘yellow vest’ style street protests

Women’s Day

Emmanuel Macron used International Women’s Day to record a selfie-style video for his Instagram account, explaining how equality between the sexes has always been a key part of his five-year term.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Emmanuel Macron (@emmanuelmacron)

He (or at least a Russian-speaker on his team) has also been busily tweeting in Russian as he continues his international diplomacy efforts.

Covid

In a reminder that Covid has not gone away, agriculture minister and close Macron confident Julien Denormandie won’t be doing any in-person campaigning this week after he tested positive. Get well soon Julien.

Podcast

The latest edition of The Local’s Politics podcast, Talking France, is now out. Local editor Emma Pearson, veteran columnist John Lichfield and Sorbonne economics professor Claudia Senik join Ben McPartland to discuss the effects of the Ukraine war on the election, the latest on the candidates and how price rises will impact France – click HERE to listen.

Player embed:

Candidate’s trips

Macron will be presiding over the regular Wednesday meetings of the Defence Council and Minister’s Council in the morning, before having lunch with Dutch PM Mark Rutte. 

Anne Hidalgo, Marine Le Pen, Eric Zemmour and Valérie Pécresse are meeting with the metalworkers’ union to present their strategies for keeping industry competitive, then Zemmour, Pécresse, Hidalgo will be joined by Yannick Jadot and Jean-Luc Mélenchon to meet tech lobby groups.

Jean Lasselle begins his campaign today which is a tour of France by bus, his first stop is Bèziers in south west France.  

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POLICE

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.

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