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2022 FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

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 Wednesday.

Today in France: The latest news from the 2022 French presidential election
French President's wife Brigitte Macron (C), French Junior Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne (L) and French Health Minister Olivier Veran greet Ukrainian children at Orly airport. Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP

Zelensky address

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky will address the French parliaments via videolink this afternoon. The parliamentary session is actually finished – because of the election – but it is expected that most MPs will be there, including Marine Le Pen who has backpedalled after previously saying she wouldn’t bother to attend because she has “no particular admiration” for Zelensky.

Although French president Emmanuel Macron speaks regularly with Zelensky and has been a key part of the search for a diplomatic solution, the Ukrainian leader is expected to push for more help including a no-fly zone over the Ukrainian skies to help deal with the Russian invasion.

Zelensky’s wife Olena Zelenska on Tuesday gave an exclusive interview to Le Parisien newspaper thanking international first ladies, and in particular Brigitte Macron, for their help in evacuating the children of Ukraine. A group of young cancer sufferers landed at Orly airport on Tuesday, and were greeted by Brigitte and health minister Olivier Véran.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Olivier Véran (@olivierveran)

Extreme right candidate Eric Zemmour formally unveils his campaign manifesto today, although he has already spelled out much of his programme, including creating a Ministry of Repatriation to deport “unwanted foreigners”.

His polling numbers appear to be stalling, partly due to his previous enthusiastic support for Vladimir Putin.

The below cartoon from Le Canard Enchaîné makes a play on the Russian invasion forces’ use of the ‘Z’ logo, which is also the nickname of Zemmour. Advances of both Russian invaders in Ukraine and Zemmour’s presidential campaign appear to be stalling.

Radio gaga

Emmanuel Macron took part in a phone-in on Tuesday with listeners of France Bleu radio station. Last time he took part in a Q&A like this was an event with Le Parisien when he created headlines around the world by saying that he wanted to emmerder (piss off) the unvaccinated. 

There were fewer fireworks this time, with Macron staying on-message – calling for calm in Corsica, defending his plan to raise the retirement age to 65 and pledging to hire more health workers.

READER QUESTION: What is a vote blanc?

Podcast

The latest edition of The Local France’s politics podcast, Talking France, is out. In this episode Ben McPartland is joined by Local France editor Emma Pearson, columnist John Lichfield and Macron biographer Adam Plowright to talk about abstention, military power, why Macron faces such visceral hatred and which candidate would make the best drinking companion.

Find the podcast on Apple or Spotify, on our podcast page or listen on the link below.

Candidates’ trips

The candidates who are MPs – including Fabien Roussel, Marine Le Pen and Jean Lassalle will be in parliament listening to Zelensky’s address. Anne Hidalgo is taking part in a question and answer session with the disability charity and Eric Zemmour officially launches his manifesto.

Emmanuel Macron remains in Paris where he is presiding over a cabinet meeting in the morning, but there is a rally in support of his candidature in Nice this evening, attended by Nice mayor (and former Les Républicains member) Christian Estrosi, former PM Edouard Philippe, culture minister Roselyn Bachelot, health minister Olivier Véran and LREM parliamentary party leader Christophe Castaner.

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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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