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 lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

After the seismic decision of the US Supreme Court on Friday, French MPs are calling for the right to abortion in France to be protected by the constitution.

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party are to propose a parliamentary bill on Saturday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution. 

The move comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision on Friday.

“In France we guarantee and advance the rights of women. We protect them,” said Aurore Bergé – the head of Renaissance in the Assemblée nationale and one of the key sponsors of the bill. 

Another co-sponsor, Marie-Pierre Rixain tweeted: “What happens in elsewhere cannot happen in France. We must protect the right to abortion for future generations. 

In 2018 and 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s party – which back then was known as La République en Marche – refused to back bills proposed by left-wing party, La France Insoumise, to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. 

In a Saturday interview with France Inter, Bergé suggested that the success of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National during parliamentary elections earlier this month had created a sense of newfound urgency. 

She described the far-right MPs as “fierce opponents of women’s access to abortion” and said it was important “to take no risk” in securing it. 

READ MORE France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has come out in support of the bill. 

The left-wing opposition block, NUPES, also backs it and had planned to propose an identical piece legislation of its own on Monday. 

Macron is seeking parliamentary allies to pass reforms after his formation lost its majority in legislative elections earlier this month.

The legal timeframe to terminate a pregnancy in France was extended from 12 to 14 weeks in the last legislature.

Changing the constitution requires the National Assembly and Senate to adopt the same text, then a three-fifths majority of parliament sitting in congress. The other option is a referendum.