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POLITICS

French Elections: 5 things you didn’t know about Nicolas Dupont-Aignan

The 61-year-old Nicolas Dupont-Aignan is running as a presidential candidate for the third time, pitching himself as the man who can restore sovereignty to France.

Right-wing French presidential candidate Nicolas Dupont-Aignan delivers a speech.
Right-wing French presidential candidate Nicolas Dupont-Aignan delivers a speech. (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP)

1. He is an isolationist 

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, sometimes referred to by the acronym NDA, is the president of the Debout la France (France Arise) party, which is seeking to remove the country from the “tentacles of the EU and NATO”. 

While he has voiced his opposition to “Frexit”, the 61-year-old has described Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon treaties, which enshrined greater EU integration, as “scandalous treason.”

He would like to radically restructure the EU to give member states greater autonomy. Dupont-Aignan has previously voiced his support for withdrawing from NATO. 

Dupont-Aignan received a public endorsement from Nigel Farage, a eurosceptic politician from the UK, during the 2014 EU parliament elections. 

2. He doesn’t want to invade Belgium

Dupont-Aignan wants to raise defence spending to 2.5 percent of GDP and recruit a further 40,000 soldiers to bring the total number of servicemen up to 250,000 by 2027. 

He has sat on various defence and foreign affairs committees as an MP. 

During the 2010-11 political crisis in Belgium, he voiced his support for an idea known as Rattachisme – which advocates French-speaking parts of Belgium seceding to become part of France.

“I am not seeking to invade Belgium,” he later clarified to the JDD

Dupont-Aignan’s enthusiastic militarism was reflected in a political thriller called Le Séisme. Marine Le Pen présidente by Michel Wieviorka. The story takes place following an imagined 2017 presidential election victory for Marine Le Pen, who appoints Dupont-Aignan as minister of defence. 

3. He performs well in local elections

Although he has yet to win more than 5 percent of the vote in a presidential election, Dupont-Aignan has a strong electoral record as a local politician. 

Dupont-Aignan is a superstar in the commune of Yerres to the southeast of Paris, where he served as mayor between 1995-2017, winning three elections with more than 75 percent in the first round. During the 2017 presidential election, he was the top polling candidate in the commune. 

His campaign website claims he was “the best elected mayor in France”. 

Dupont-Aignan proved himself an effective local administrator cutting the commune’s debt by close to half over a 20-year period and winning support for his environmental and crime-fighting policies. 

From 1997-2017, he won successive parliamentary races as an MP for the Essone département, frequently winning an absolute majority in the first round. Prior to his election, the seat had only ever been held by candidates from the Socialist party. 

4. He loves animals 

Dupont-Aignan has been decorated by the French animal rights organisation, la Fondation 30 Millions d’Amis, for his policies in favour of animal protection. 

As Mayor of Yerres, he launched a number of initiatives including the construction of a refuge for stray cats, the development of natural spaces for Scottish cows and the subsidisation of a dog shelter. He also created a new post for an official charged with defending animal rights. 

“Long considered as simple objects, animals are still too often victims of intolerable treatment,” reads his campaign website. As an MP, he has pushed for bans on slaughter without stunning, for better regulation of abattoirs, a ban on horse meat and a ban on animal shows at circuses. 

5. He is Covid-sceptic 

Dupont-Aignan has been a fervent critic of the government’s Covid policy, voicing his opposition to the vaccine pass. 

“What is crazy is that in a democracy like France, you can vote in the middle of the night for a law that will not resolve anything as far as health is concerned,” he said.

In February, he told RTL that vaccinating young people was “totally useless”. 

“We have a government under the grip of money and conflicts of interests… We are in a country where the pharmaceutical lobby has influenced a government.”

Dupont-Aignan has already had Covid but has refused to say whether or not he has been vaccinated. 

A number of his campaign staff resigned in December after revelations that he had continued to hold meetings despite having Covid. 

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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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