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 Monday.

Today in France: The latest news from the 2022 French presidential election
Jean-Luc Melenchon delivers a speech at the Place de la Republique in Paris on Sunday. Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

Celeb snubs

Centre-right candidate Valérie Pécresse has been thoroughly snubbed by the ‘dream team’ of well-known figures who she had said she would invite to join her government.

Speaking about inviting non-politicians into a future cabinet, she cited popular French-Moroccan author Leila Slimani, Olympic judo champion Teddy Riner and General Pierre de Villiers. Unfortunately, they seem less than thrilled by the invitation, with the General immediately ruling it out and the Olympian responding on Twitter with the laughing face emoji. 

Slimani, who has been appointed by Emmanuel Macron as a cultural ambassador, reacted by saying: “Nothing would give me greater horror.”

Mentor snubs

It was also a bad weekend for Anne Hidalgo as her former political mentor – and retired mayor of Paris – Bertrand Delanoë announced that he would not be voting for her.

The ex mayor, who belonged to Hidalgo’s Parti Socialiste, has announced that he will be voting for Macron, as he did in 2017, telling the Journal du Dimanche “I voted for him in 2017 hoping he would be a good President. I will vote for him again in 2022 knowing he will be a good President.”

Republican march

It was a better weekend for the far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who had a good turnout in Paris for his ‘March for the 6th republic’ – 100,000 people according to a count from his own campaign team. 

He told the crowd that he would “freeze prices and raise the minimum wage to €1,400 a month” on his first day in office, if elected. His team are pushing hard the notion of the vote utile (useful vote) saying that for leftists, any vote for a candidate other than Mélenchon is a vote thrown away.

Polling at around 12 percent, he has some catching up to do to beat Marine Le Pen (currently on 17 percent) and make it into the second round with Macron.

Sports days

Prime minister Jean Castex, a keen rugby fan who hails from France’s rugby heartland of the south west, was at the Stade de France on Saturday to see the French team win the Six Nations tournament with a Grand Slam.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex (C) and French Rugby Federation (FFR) President Bernard Laporte (R) attend the Six Nations match between France and England at the Stade de France. Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP

Meanwhile finance minister Bruno Le Maire was posting pre-jogging selfies on Sunday.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Bruno Le Maire (@brunolemaire)

Hunting Q&A

The hunting lobby La Fédération nationale des chasseurs is setting up its own campaign event with candidates on an issue that is gaining increasing profile during the election.

As well as animal rights issues there are increasing concerns over safety – every year passers-by are accidentally shot and killed by hunters and many living in rural areas say they feel unsafe going outdoors during the hunting season.

It is for this reason that both green candidate Yannick Jadot and Mélénchon have proposed banning hunting at weekends and during school holidays. Both have declined the invitation to the hunters’ campaign event.

Candidates’ trips

Emmanuel Macron is staying in Paris and will welcome the Spanish and Finnish prime ministers to the Elysée while his justice minister Eric Dupond-Moretti and interior minister Gérald Darmanin are on the campaign trail in the Nord département in northern France.

Anne Hidalgo is meeting the president of Israel while Yannick Jadot is holding a press conference about his education policy. Fabien Roussel is in Nantes while Jean Lassalle’s tour bus will stop off in Le Havre and Honfleur.

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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.