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TALKING FRANCE

PODCAST: Is France going far-right and is Macron panicking about petrol?

As the French presidential election campaign gets underway, join The Local France team and our guest experts including John Lichfield to examine the big questions of the campaign trail - is France moving inexorably towards the far right? What explains the geographical voting divide? And just how rich is Emmanuel Macron?

PODCAST: Is France going far-right and is Macron panicking about petrol?
Image: The Local France

This week on Talking France, Ben McPartland is joined by Local France editor Emma Pearson, political columnist John Lichfield and political analyst Jean-Yves Camus as we examine the big questions facing France and its voters, ahead of the 2022 presidential election. 

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

Jean-Yves Camus, an expert on the far right and a political analyst at France’s Institute of International and Strategic Relations, told us: “I have always written that the Front National [Marine Le Pen’s party] is here to stay as a significant political force, but it has no capability of coming to power. 

“But what is new is Eric Zemmour, and if you add Le Pen and Zemmour’s vote together you’re up to 30 percent – that’s huge.”

As the French government moves to announce more help for drivers to deal with spiralling petrol costs, we asked John Lichfield whether the government appeared to be panicking over the cost-of-living crisis.

He said: “I think not panicking yet but floundering – it seems to be very difficult for the Finance Ministry to get its head around the issue of tax cuts.”

Also this week, Ben and Emma dissect the latest news for the election campaigns and have a look at the déclarations de patrimonie – the startlingly detailed information that each candidate must reveal about their financial situation. Some candidates are into their overdrafts while one is worth a cool €10 million (and it might not be the one you think).

And we’re looking at some French phrases to help you understand the elections, from crowd-baths to granny-hugging.

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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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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