French far-right MP in hot water for using noble name

A newly elected far-right lawmaker has been sued by the descendants of one of France's oldest aristocratic families for adding their name to his own.

French far-right MP in hot water for using noble name
Rassemblement National (RN) MPs at the Assemblee Nationale. (Photo by Christophe Archambault / AFP)

Emmanuel Tache de la Pagerie, 47, was one of dozens of Rassemblement National candidates voted into the National Assembly on Sunday, with his official ID verified and approved by the local authorities in the southern city of Marseille.

Born Emmanuel Tache in the working-class Paris suburb of Montreuil, he told Le Monde newspaper this week that he added “de la Pagerie” to his passport 30 years ago, when he worked in fashion and broadcasting before entering politics.

While not illegal under French law, the borrowed or suspect use of aristocratic surnames can be a prickly subject.

Critics of former president Valery Giscard d’Estaing sniped about his grandfather’s opportunistic acquisition of the noble-sounding “de” (“of”) particle, though few ever did for fellow commoner Charles de Gaulle.

The male line of the Tascher de la Pagerie family died out in 1993, but three of his descendants sued the deputy this week after learning their historic name had been appropriated.

“We have filed a complaint to protect the family name,” Frederic Pichon, a lawyer for the three women, told AFP, adding that a date for hearings would be set on July 8.

They are seeking a symbolic one euro in damages, and a fine of €500 per day if Emmanuel Tache continues to use their name.

“The fact that he’s in Rassemblement National, or France insoumise, or La République En Marche isn’t the problem,” he said, referring to the far left and the centrists of President Emmanuel Macron.

He said the aristocratic name was rare and noted “a risk of confusion in the eyes of the public,” even if the Tache/Tascher spellings are different.

“My clients are from Normandy but live in Paris, and are the sole heirs to have this name since the death of their father in 1993 — and one of his final
wishes was that his name be protected,” Pichon said.

Emmanuel Tache de la Pagerie did not respond to requests for comments, but told Le Monde that having just been elected, “I don’t have time to waste on this type of stuff”.

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What now for France’s public service broadcasters after TV licence axed?

Questions remain over the future of France’s public service broadcasters after bill abolishing annual €138 licence fee leaves future funding plans for the broadcasters vague.

What now for France's public service broadcasters after TV licence axed?

Households in France will no longer have to pay for an annual TV licence after parliament approved scrapping the annual €138 per household charge, meaning that this November the usual tax bill will simply not arrive.

The measure is part of a €65 billion package of financial aid to help people cope with the spiralling cost of living.

Revealed: What will you get from the cost-of-living package?

But abolishing the TV licence was not without its critics, while questions remain over the future funding of France’s public service broadcasters.

The €138 annual fee has been used to finance the TV and radio channels in the public sector.

It raises €3.7 billion a year – 65 percent of which is allocated to France Télévisions, 15.9 percent to Radio France, 7.5 percent to Arte, 7 percent to France Médias Monde, 2.4 percent to audiovisual archive agency INA and 2.1 percent to TV5 Monde, a Senate report revealed.

TV licence funding currently supplies about half of the total turnover of France Télévisions, while the rest comes from advertising.

Proposing the licence fee cut, president Emmanuel Macron said he wanted to define a budget “with multi-year visibility”, with fixed financing amounts. But, no long-term concrete plans are currently in place.

The government has said there is no question of public service broadcasters losing money, insisting it will replace the licence fee “euro for euro” with public subsidies financed by VAT. 

This model, however, is guaranteed only to the end of 2024 – after which the government will have to present different financing strategies to Parliament.

Despite the bill passing, Senators lined-up to criticise the absence of a concrete long-term funding strategy.

Les Républicains’ Jean-Raymond Hugonet said the plans were being pushed through too quickly for populist reasons and argued it was a change that should have come with a definitive public broadcasting strategy. 

Socialist senator David Assouline said Malak had “hailed the glory” of French public broadcasting but was “creating the conditions to weaken it”.

Assouline has long been a critic of the plan. “From the moment there is no more dedicated funding and we have to draw from the general state budget, we will end up being told that it all costs too much and that we have to cut expenses, close a channel, or even, as we already hear sometimes, privatise,” he told a demonstration against the plans in July.

Concerned staff at France Télévisions and Radio France went on strike at the end of June in protest at the changes, saying that getting rid of the fee amounted to a “threat” to the independence of the channels in question. 

Unions and cultural experts have expressed concern about the possibility that broadcasters’ independence would be eroded if financing was at the whim of the government of the time. Bruno Patino, the head of Arte France, has told AFP that he feared for his channel’s future if the funding model changed.

Another critic, cultural economist Françoise Benhamou told Le Monde: “The disadvantage of budgeting is that we are much less protected from the vagaries of politics, since the latter decides on the budget.”

And LFI MP and journalist Clémentine Autain said in July: “This is a highly political and dangerous measure. Democracy needs a strong public audiovisual service, with a fair financing system that guarantees independence.”