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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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.