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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 Friday.

Today in France: The latest news from the 2022 French presidential election
Valerie Pecresse will be campaigning from home as she has Covid. Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP

Positive result

Valérie Pécresse is out of any in-person events for the next few days, having tested positive for Covid. 

Her team says she has only light symptoms and Pécresse announced on Twitter that she will continue campaigning remotely. She went ahead with an interview with France 2 TV channel on Thursday evening, albeit with a spate of technical problems and a poor connection.

Trips to Bordeaux and Marseille have been cancelled but a rally in Gironde will go ahead, fronted by her campaign manager and her lawyer.

Mélenchon momentum

The campaign of far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon is picking up pace, as he has been enjoying a steady rise in the polls in recent days.

Pushing hard to pick up the support of all leftist voters as the ‘useful vote’ of the left, Mélenchon says his campaign over the next few weeks will feature ‘giant rallies’ and the return of the hologram. He used hologram technology during his 2017 campaign to appear at two rallies simultaneously.

Polls

There are of course lots of election polls floating about and it’s probably best to take all of them with a slight pinch of salt.

But one interesting one is Huff Post’s animated graphic, which goes back to September 2021 and shows how the candidates have gone up or down in polling since then.

What’s quite remarkable is the stability of the polling of Emmanuel Macron, while below him challengers rise and fall.

Leader of the pack?

Popular with his own voters (or should we say not as unpopular as the rest of the candidates?) Macron also seemed to be the guy people wanted to hang out with at Thursday’s Nato summit in Brussels.

At least if you’re an amateur body language expert and have been watching the clips such as this, which seem to show Macron as considerably more popular than British PM Boris Johnson.

Candidates’ trips

Emmanuel Macron is still in Brussels for a meeting of the European Council while his PM Jean Castex is hosting local Préfets at Matignon for meetings on the cost-of-living plan and arrangements to welcome Ukrainian refugees.

Over the weekend Marine Le Pen heads to the French overseas territory of Guadeloupe, Philippe Poutou is hosting a meeting in Clermont-Ferrand and Anne Hidalgo is in Toulouse. Fabien Roussel is also in Toulouse, while further south Jean-Luc Mélenchon is holding a rally on the beach in Marseille.

Eric Zemmour is holding a large rally in Paris, 2pm on Sunday at Trocadéro. Some of his previous campaign events have seen violent clashes, so this might be an area to avoid. 

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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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