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2022 FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Today in France: The latest from the election trail

From killer comments to mathematical models, here's the Monday roundup from the election trail as France prepares to head to the polls and elect its next president.

Today in France: The latest from the election trail
Extreme right candidate Eric Zemmour's rally at Trocadero, Paris. Photo by BERTRAND GUAY / AFP

Killer comments

Politicians from across the political spectrum have condemned the crowd at Eric Zemmour’s Sunday rally who were filmed chanting ‘Macron assassin‘ (murderer Macron).

Zemmour himself has also condemned the chanting, but has frequently attacked Macron for what he calls his “lax” approach to immigration, and linked it to terror attacks that have killed scores of French people since 2015 (although many of the terrorists were French citizens, born in France).

After the rally, Zemmour has said that he didn’t hear what his supporters were chanting, prompting Macron to remark on “one of the most important reforms of my presidential term” – hearing aids are now 100 percent covered on state health insurance.

Macron rally

Macron himself has finally hit the campaign trail with a public walkabout event in Dijon. He will hold his first major election rally of the campaign on Saturday, at the La Défense arena in Paris.

Although his announcement that he was standing for re-election contained a paragraph saying that he would not be able to campaign ‘normally’ because of the war in Ukraine, Macron has come in for increasing criticism in recent days – including from some of his own supporters – for appearing disengaged from the the campaign trail.

Negativity

Valérie Pecresse is still out of in-person campaigning with Covid, but her team say they ‘hope’ she will be testing negative and out of isolation by this evening in time for a debate on Europe 1. Her earlier attempt at a zoom interview for France 2’s politics show was marked with technical difficulties.

If not, her team says she should be fit to restart campaigning later in the week with events in the Hauts-de-France, in the north of the country. 

Polls

There are of course dozens of polls on the French presidential elections, but The Economist is trying a slightly different model, assessing the mathematical probability of a win by the various candidates.

Mugs

With social media an important campaign tool for any modern politician, more and more Twitter and Instagram accounts are flooded with political messages and pictures of politicians out shaking hands or handing out leaflets.

But if you want something a little more left-field, head over to the Instagram account of finance minister Bruno Le Maire.

Candidates’ debates

Monday marks the start of the ‘official’ campaign, which means the broadcast media is governed by strict rules on giving all candidates equal airtime.

On Monday evening a joint debate has been organised by Europe 1, Paris Match magazine and the Journal du Dimanche newspaper, which will be broadcast via social media. As of Monday morning, Fabien RousselAnne HidalgoMarine Le Pen, Yannick Jadot and Valérie Pécresse had accepted the invitation.

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POLICE

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.

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