Investment strategy correspondent, London
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May 7, 2015

France’s Marine Le Pen gambles with political patricide

PARIS (Reuters) – By pushing her maverick father out of the far-right party he founded four decades ago, French National Front leader Marine Le Pen is banking on an act of political patricide to ensure he does not end up ruining her bid for power.

The risk is that the 86-year-old former paratrooper, suspended from the party on Monday over provocative comments on the Holocaust, does not go down quietly.

Apr 25, 2015

Isolated in debt talks, Greek finance rebel gets the cold shoulder

RIGA (Reuters) – As the buses carrying European finance ministers left for a gala dinner in the Latvian capital on Friday night, one of the party hung back at the hotel and then wandered off alone into the dusk.

Greece’s Yanis Varoufakis had other dinner plans, he said, after a bruising first day of meetings in Riga that underlined his isolation as he tries to avert national bankruptcy.

Apr 24, 2015

Euro zone warns Greece no cash till full reform deal

RIGA (Reuters) – Euro zone finance ministers delivered a stark warning to Greece on Friday that its leftist government will get no more aid until it agrees a complete economic reform plan, as Athens lurches closer to bankruptcy.

After a tough morning of talks with Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, the chairman of the Eurogroup of finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, slammed the door on a request for early cash in return for partial reforms.

Apr 15, 2015

France challenges EU structural deficit targets

PARIS (Reuters) – France will target smaller reductions in its structural budget deficit in 2016 and 2017 than called for by the European Commission in order to preserve economic growth, the government said on Wednesday.

French officials said the cuts sought by the EU executive on the structural deficit – which strips out the effects of the economic cycle – were too high.

Apr 13, 2015

France’s Jean-Marie Le Pen steps back to ease family feud

PARIS (Reuters) – Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of France’s far-right National Front, said on Monday he would not seek its ticket to stand in regional polls, taking some of the sting out of a damaging public row with his daughter Marine, the party’s current leader.

But the 86-year-old former paratrooper told Le Figaro in an interview that he was disappointed by his daughter and would not quit politics, showing that the family feud that could emerge as a threat to the FN’s bid for power is not necessarily over.

Apr 8, 2015

French PM rules out motorway toll hikes in 2015

PARIS, April 8 (Reuters) – Prime Minister Manuel Valls said
on Wednesday a pact would be concluded soon to end a
long-running dispute with French motorway operators over the
future of their concession contracts and that it did not
envisage a toll hike this year.

Valls, who was announcing a wider package of measures aimed
at boosting corporate investment in the euro zone’s second
largest economy, said a long-held-up plan under which the
operators would invest 3.2 billion euros in upgrading the
motorway network could go ahead.

Apr 8, 2015

France announces plan to boost business investment

PARIS (Reuters) – Firms are to be given bigger tax rebates on investments as part of reforms announced on Wednesday to boost business activity and help the slow revival of France’s economy.

Flat business investment remains a drag on the improving outlook for the euro zone’s second-largest economy at a time when consumer spending and exports are picking up.

Mar 31, 2015

France’s National Front struggles to turn popularity into power

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s National Front scored its best ever local election result, but its hopes for power remain thwarted by widespread distaste for its anti-immigration policies and an election system that allows voters to block it from office.

The far-right FN won one in four votes in the first round of local elections on March 22, its highest score ever. In the second round last Sunday, it secured 62 councillors in 14 departmental assemblies, less than 2 percent of councillors nationwide but a big jump from the single councillor it had before.

Mar 29, 2015

Sarkozy wins French local elections; far right makes limited gains

PARIS (Reuters) – The far-right National Front made only limited gains in French local elections won by a wide margin on Sunday by ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservatives and their centrist allies.

Sarkozy’s UMP and its allies will take over two thirds of the 102 local “departements”, exit polls showed, up from 41 now, in a boost for the former president, whose recent comeback at the helm of the UMP is challenged within the party.

Mar 29, 2015

French local election runoff to test far-right strength

PARIS (Reuters) – French voters elect thousands of local councillors on Sunday in a test of the far-right National Front’s growing hold on grassroots politics.

While the FN came second in the first round of voting last week, in a setback to its claims that it has become the country’s first party, it did win one in four votes and is all but certain to see a big jump from its current two councilors.