Today in France: On the election trail

From tax scandals to home movies, here's the Wednesday roundup from the election trail as France prepares to head to the polls and elect its next president.

Today in France: On the election trail
Presidential candidate Jean Lassalle gives a speech. Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

McKinsey affair

Two members of Emmanuel Macron’s government are holding a press conference on Wednesday evening in an attempt to diffuse the ‘McKinsey affair’.

This slow-burn scandal has gained traction in recent days as the government struggles to explain the complicated tax affairs of its highly-paid US consultants.

Explained: What is the McKinsey affair and could it derail Macron’s re-election bid?


But others appear more worried about whether people will vote at all, however, with the latest polls predicting a record abstention rate and only 67 percent of people bothering to vote on polling days.

OPINION: Growing abstention could produce an election surprise in France


One of the more unusual ways that the Macron campaign is trying to hook younger voters, who are the most likely to abstain, is through the video game, apparently modelled on Minecraft, in which players can ‘build’ an election campaign.

French journalists who tried to play it when it was first launched found it impossible to connect to however, hopefully not a metaphor . . .


The candidates’ campaign clips, which will run on TV during the official campaign period, are out. 

Our favourite is this slightly less professional effort from ruralist candidate Jean Lassalle. Keep listening to the end to hear the pay-off when the candidate asks his camera operator “Will that do?” “Très bien” replies the cameraman, who doesn’t appear to be truly engaged with his work.

You can find commentary on all 12 videos here.

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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.