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2022 FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Today in France: The latest from the election trail

From anti-vax votes to granny-hugging, here's the Tuesday 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
Emmanuel Macron takes part in a pre-election walkabout in Dijon. Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP

Polls narrow

Polls, as they have been for months, still predict that Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen will be the highest-scoring candidates in the first round of polling, making the second round a re-run of 2017.

But more recent polling on the likely result of the head-to-head between Macron and Le Pen shows that the result is getting tighter, with some predicting a final result of 53 percent to Macron v 47 percent to Le Pen.

Many are also predicting that turnout will be low.

Anti-vax vote

Four candidates – Marine Le Pen, Eric Zemmour and Nicolas Dupont-Aignan on the far right and Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the far left – have said that they will reinstate unvaccinated healthcare workers if elected.

France made the Covid vaccine mandatory for health workers in September 2021. Around 3,000 staff members were suspended on the day the rule came into force, although many of those went on to get vaccinated and returned to work. The rest remain technically employed, but suspended without pay.

The four candidates all say they would reinstate the unvaccinated workers, and Le Pen says she would give out back pay for the months of suspension.

It remains unclear whether this strategy is a vote-winner. Florian Philipott, the anti-vax leader of the health pass protests, attempted to stand in the presidential elections, but attracted very low levels of interest and just a single signature of support – all candidates require 500 signatures to stand.

Macron meeting

Emmanuel Macron is holding his first big campaign rally on Saturday in the 30,000 seater La Défense Arena in Paris. His team said that 25,000 places were registered in the first 48 hours, and they believe the event will be a sell-out.

Due to the war in Ukraine, Macron has been running a muted campaign, with his ministers fronting many campaign rallies, meaning the La Défense event will be one of the few chances for die-hard fans to see him in the flesh.

He did take part in a walkabout event in Dijon on Monday, where he was enthusiastically greeted by some, but also asked difficult questions about the cost-of-living crisis from low-wage workers.

The French term usually used for these events is a bain de foule (literally a crowd-bath) and the slightly jokey term sometimes used for politicians taking part is croque-mémé (granny hugger). Macron appeared to be taking the term to heart, and is shown below hugging an elderly lady (we have no information on whether she has grandchildren).

Emmanuel Macron, croque-mémé. Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP

Campaign trips

Valérie Pécresse has tested negative for Covid so is back to in-person campaigning. She is off to Lille to visit the suburb of Marcq-en-Baroeul. Meanwhile Yannick Jadot is in Saint-Brieuc and Anne Hidalgo in Nancy.

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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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