PODCAST: Will the French turn out to vote and what has Macron done for France?

With three weeks to go until the first round of the French election, The Local France team plus guest experts John Lichfield and Adam Plowright discuss abstention levels, Macron's legacy for France and which candidate would make the best drinking buddy.

PODCAST: Will the French turn out to vote and what has Macron done for France?
Image: The Local

The Local’s Talking France  podcast aims to make sense of France, its politics and in particular its 2022 presidential election. This week Local France editor Emma Pearson is joined by veteran columnist John Lichfield, plus Macron biographer and Paris-based journalist Adam Plowright.

We’re talking the latest from the campaign trail, the candidate that most people would like to have a beer with, how powerful the French military really is and why it is that so many people seem to viscerally hate Emmanuel Macron.

Find the last episode HERE, on Spotify or Apple or listen on the link below.

Adam told us: “Macron himself, before his election, called the French people a nation of regicidal monarchists, but Macron has faced a much greater level of personal animosity than his predecessors.

“I think this is partly to do with his image as the former investment banker who came into power and immediately cut the wealth tax, but there is also his ‘petites phrases‘ – his tendency to say remarks that come across as very condescending.”

We’re also looking at whether a low turnout will really mean a re-elected Macron would be an ‘illegitimate’ president, as his opponents claim.

John said: “I think abstention will be somewhat higher this time than in 2017. A lot of the abstention is on the left because people just don’t see a candidate that they like, it’s partly a sense that the election is done and dusted and of course the war – people are distracted by other things.

“I think in a sense Macron does well out of a low turnout because it amplifies his vote, but in another sense he does badly because then people can make the arguments that he is not a ‘properly elected’ president, and that will be used against him as he tries to push through somewhat tough reforms. 

And as ever, we’ll be looking at some of the French words and phrases you need to understand the presidential campaign, and answering questions from our readers – such as, what is a vote blanc?

You can find the podcast in Spotify or Apple under Talking France, or catch up with this and all previous episodes HERE.

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French unions announce new strike dates in battle against pension reform

After a second day in which more than a million people took to the streets of France to protest over planned pension reform, unions have announced further strike days.

French unions announce new strike dates in battle against pension reform

France’s eight main trades unions federations made a joint announcement on Tuesday night of fresh strike days – Tuesday, February 7th and Saturday, February 11th. 

Tuesday marks the day that the highly controversial pension reform – which includes raising the pension age from 62 to 64 – is presented to the French parliament for the first time.

Both days are likely to see significant disruption, particularly on public transport.

The mass strike on Tuesday saw trains and city public transport services heavily disrupted, while many schools closed as teachers walked out.

Demos held in towns and cities across France saw a huge turnout – more than 1.1 million people, an increase on the turnout on the first day of pension strikes.

READ ALSO ‘We won’t stop until Macron is defeated’ say French pension demonstrators

You can find all the latest news on strikes and service disruptions in our strike section HERE.