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French TV to show classic comedy instead of election results

France's leading TV channel always devotes an entire evening to dissecting the first-round results of the presidential vote. But not this year. Instead, it will cut off early to show a clownish cult comedy from 1993.

French TV to show classic comedy instead of election results
Photo by Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP

The decision to rebroadcast the surefire hit The Visitors saw TF1 accused of deepening a democratic deficit, but it also crystalized what polls have shown for weeks – that the election has yet to capture the imagination of voters.

With less than two weeks to the first-round vote on April 10th, the 11 rivals hoping to knock the centrist Emmanuel Macron out of office have struggled to generate much momentum, let alone enthusiasm, against the background of the war in Ukraine.

Surveys show most people are convinced the 44-year-old former banker, whose reformist zeal upended politics-as-usual five years ago, will cruise through the first round toward a run-off victory on April 24th.

According to a BVA poll released Friday, 75 percent of registered French intend to cast a ballot, which would be slightly down on the 2017 figure with absentee voters seen as helping Macron.

“People are increasingly utilitarian, they vote when it interests them, and we’ve seen that when it’s a close race, more people vote,” said Gerard Grunberg, a veteran political scientist at the CNRS research institute.

“That’s going to help Macron because his base is fairly determined, especially in these times of war — other voters might just say, ‘We don’t like Macron but he’s going to win, and anyway we don’t know who to vote for’,” he told AFP.

┬áBut within Macron’s camp there is increasing concern that abstentions and complacency could lead to a shock result.

“When I see such feeble interest in this race, with one-quarter of the French who could still change their mind… things could change a lot” in the next two weeks, Frederic Dabi of the Ifop polling institute told Public Senat television on Monday.

You can find all our coverage of the 2022 presidential election HERE.

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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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