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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 Friday.

Today in France: The latest news from the 2022 French presidential election
Emmanuel Macron straightens his tie before greeting EU leaders at Versailles. Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP

Day 2 in Versailles

Today marks the second day of the summit of EU leaders at Versailles. As well as the serious political discussion, Versailles also offers plenty of opportunity for pomp and circumstance, like these chaps in their fetching jodhpurs.

The leaders had dinner together on Thursday night, and Emmanuel Macron also had a private meeting with Italian leader Mario Draghi, his main ally in his quest for greater EU economic integration.

Pensions

It was made as a seemingly throwaway remark, but Macron’s announcement that he intends to raise the pension age to 65 has sparked string opposition from the other candidates, as well as many unions.

Macron’s first attempt at pension reform in 2019 – which did not include raising the pension age – sparked the largest transport strikes seen in France since 1968. Judging by the initial reaction to his plan to raise the pension age from 62 to 65, it doesn’t seem that his second attempt will be any smoother.

Head-to-head

‘Pugilistic’ was the word used by many French media to describe the TV debate of Valérie Pécresse and Eric Zemmour. The pair, competing for voters on the right, are currently neck-and-neck at third place in the polls.

Centre-right candidate Pécresse appears to have shifted further to the right since the start of her campaign, controversially referencing the ‘great replacement’ – a racist conspiracy theory – in her first big campaign speech. Nevertheless Zemmour attacked her as a “technocrat with double standards” while she pointed to his enthusiastic support of Vladimir Putin.

There are more of these one-on-one candidate debates planned if you have lots of time (the Pécresse Zemmour one came in at 1 hour 30 minutes) but Macron has already ruled out taking part in a debate with all 12 candidates, saying he will only take part in a two-person second round debate.

Buy an NFT

Since this is a 2022 election campaign you can now buy NFTs of all the candidates, here’s Anne Hidalgo’s frankly rather terrifying one . . 

We don’t actually know exactly what NFTs are or why everyone is talking about them – we were hoping that they would stop being a thing before we had to learn what they are – but you can find the NFTs of all 12 of the candidates here.

Candidates trips

While Macron is busy at Versailles, many of the candidates are leaving Paris on Friday, Anne Hidalgo is in Rennes, Yannick Jadot is in Bordeaux, Eric Zemmour is in Agen and Valérie Pécresse is going to Corrèze.

Over the weekend several candidates will be taking part in the Climate marches that are happening all over France. Meanwhile on Sunday charities Greenpeace and Oxfam have organised a ‘debate of the century’ on climate issues, hosted on Twitch, which will be attended by Yannick JadotAnne HidalgoFabien RousselJean-Luc Mélenchon and Philippe Poutou

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POLITICS

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.

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