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 Thursday.

Today in France: The latest news from the 2022 French presidential election
Presidential candidate Jean Lassalle arrives for a campaign visit in Mauleon-Licharre, south-western France on March 9, 2022. (Photo by GAIZKA IROZ / AFP)

 Qu’ils mangent de la brioche

Versailles is hosting a two-day meeting of European leaders today and tomorrow, where they will discuss the EU’s response to the Ukraine war with reference to a European defence and energy policy.

Co-ordinating EU defence is something that Emmanuel Macron has demanded for years, and events in Ukraine have pushed his calls back into the spotlight. However, his team are being careful not to build up expecations for this meeting, which is being described as an “informal meeting” to share ideas.

It’s unlikely that big policy changes will be announced at the end of it.

Mini Versailles

During the summit Valérie Pécresse, candidate of the centre-right Les Républicains, will host a private lunch for several European figures from the right of the political spectrum, including European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, European Parliament president Roberta Metsola and ex-European Council president Donald Tusk.

No night work

Macron on Wednesday evening cancelled what was billed as an informal campaign visit to night workers. His team said this was due to ‘diary reasons’ ahead of what will likely be a very pressured two days at Versailles.

Macron is, by all accounts, one of those slightly terrifying individuals who can get by on four hours sleep a night, but it seems that even he has limits.


In case anyone was eagerly awaiting former president François Hollande’s views on the 2022 race (no, us neither) he has judged that Jean-Luc Mélenchon would not be a “useful president”.

The ex-president was responding to a growing number of voices within his own Parti Socialiste to abandon their candidate Anne Hidalgo (currently polling at around 2 percent) and instead vote for Mélénchon, the highest polling leftist candidate, as the “useful vote” of the left.

Hollande responded: “But it would not be useful to have a president who would leave Nato. It would not be useful to have a president who would gradually leave Europe. It would not be useful to have a president who at some point would want to completely change the institutions, without knowing what to replace them with.”

Bus tour

If you live in rural France, you’re quite likely to see this bus in the next few weeks as Jean Lassalle, of Resistons!, begins his bus tour of the country. He’s planning to focus on rural areas, so don’t be alarmed if you see this vehicle passing by.

Gangster’s (green) paradise

You might not think that green candidate Yannick Jadot has much in common with Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj or Dr Dre, but they do share something – a photographer.

Jadot picked the American photographer Jonathan Mannion, a specialist in the hip-hop scene who has created more than 300 rap and hip hop album covers, to do the photos for his campaign poster.

Macron memes

Talking of photos, pictures released of Macron by his official photographer after his latest call to Vladimir Putin are well on their way to becoming a meme, with people adding their own captions to the pictures of the slightly unravelled looking president.

Candidates trips

France’s largest union the CFDT is holding individual ‘auditions’ for candidates today. Anne Hidalgo, Fabien Roussel and Yannick Jadot will be at the union’s HQ this morning trying to impress the judges, while Emmanuel Macron, Valérie Pécresse and Jean-Luc Mélenchon will send a representative to outline their policies.

Eric Zemmour and Valérie Pécresse will take part in a head-to-head TV debate on TF1 at 8.20pm.

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Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France’s disabilities minister

France's disabilities minister will not face a new inquiry "as things stand" over a rape allegation that surfaced just after his nomination by President Emmanuel Macron last week, prosecutors have said, citing the anonymity of the alleged victim.

Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France's disabilities minister

Damien Abad has faced growing pressure to resign after the news website Mediapart reported the assault claims by two women dating from over a decade ago, which he has denied.

One of the women, identified only by her first name, Margaux, filed a rape complaint in 2017 that was later dismissed by prosecutors.

The other woman, known only as Chloe, told Mediapart that in 2010 she had blacked out after accepting a glass of champagne from Abad at a bar in Paris, and woke up in her underwear in pain with him in a hotel room. She believes she may have been drugged.

She did not file an official complaint, but the Paris prosecutors’ office said it was looking into the case after being informed by the Observatory of Sexist and Sexual Violence in Politics, a group formed by members of France’s MeToo movement.

“As things stand, the Paris prosecutors’ office is not following up on the letter” from the observatory, it said, citing “the inability to identify the victim of the alleged acts and therefore the impossibility of proceeding to a hearing.”

In cases of sexual assault against adults, Paris prosecutors can open an inquiry only if an official complaint is made, meaning the victim must give their identity.

Abad has rejected the calls to resign in order to ensure the new government’s “exemplarity,” saying that he is innocent and that his own condition of arthrogryposis, which limits the movement of his joints, means sexual relations can occur only with the help of a partner.

The appointment of Abad as minister for solidarities and people with disabilities in a reshuffle last Friday was seen as a major coup for Macron, as the 42-year-old had defected from the right-wing opposition.

The new prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, said she was unaware of the allegations before Abad’s nomination, but insisted that “If there is new information, if a new complaint is filed, we will draw all the consequences.”

The claims could loom large over parliamentary elections next month, when Macron is hoping to secure a solid majority for his reformist agenda. Abad will be standing for re-election in the Ain department north of Lyon.