Chief correspondent, West and Central Africa
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Mar 24, 2014

Hollande to pursue reforms despite French local vote thump

PARIS (Reuters) – President Francois Hollande’s government will stick to planned economic reforms and spending cuts despite being punished in local elections where the anti-immigrant National Front (FN) made gains, the French finance minister said on Monday.

In what leader Marine Le Pen called a breakthrough for her protectionist anti-EU party, the FN won power in the northern former coal-mining town Henin-Beaumont in a first-round vote on Sunday, and leads in a dozen towns before next week’s run-offs.

Mar 24, 2014

France’s National Front sees town halls in its grasp

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s anti-immigrant National Front (FN) has surged to power in one former Socialist town-hall bastion and expects more victories in local elections where voters punished President Francois Hollande for failing to tackle unemployment.

In what leader Marine Le Pen called a breakthrough for her protectionist anti-EU party, the FN won power in the northern former coal-mining town Henin-Beaumont in a first-round vote on Sunday, and leads in at least six other towns before run-offs scheduled for next week.

Mar 20, 2014

Losses for Hollande, far right gains expected in French town-hall vote

PARIS/MARSEILLE (Reuters) – President Francois Hollande’s Socialists fear heavy mid-term losses that could jeopardize reforms and the far-right National Front is seen making major gains when voters elect mayors in towns and villages across France from Sunday.

Mayors loom large in French social and political life and the two-round elections are often decided on personality or local issues.

Mar 16, 2014

Swords of Damocles threaten French comeback for Sarkozy

PARIS (Reuters) – “‘Affaires’? They’re picking up again,” joked President Francois Hollande to reporters last week in a pun on the French word for both business activities and political scandals.

Well might he smile. For the legacy of a turbulent past few weeks of intrigue may be to harm any hopes ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy has of avenging his 2012 defeat by Hollande in the next presidential election.

Mar 12, 2014

French government on defensive over Sarkozy phone-taps

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s justice minister on Wednesday defied calls for her to quit after it emerged that she knew former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s phone was being tapped, apparently contradicting an earlier statement from her.

Sarkozy’s opposition conservatives accuse the government of using the surveillance, ordered as part of a party funding inquiry, to discredit them before this month’s local elections in which President Francois Hollande’s Socialists risk losing ground.

Mar 12, 2014

French justice minister urged to quit over Sarkozy phone-taps

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s opposition conservatives called on Wednesday for Francois Hollande’s justice minister to quit after it emerged the government knew that ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy’s phone was being tapped, contrary to her earlier statement.

Sarkozy’s conservatives have accused Hollande’s government of using the surveillance, launched by investigators as part of a party funding inquiry, to discredit them ahead local elections later this month where ruling Socialists risk losing ground.

Feb 18, 2014

France, Germany rein in ambitions for joint cabinet meeting

PARIS (Reuters) – Angela Merkel dreams of a European communications network and Francois Hollande of an “energy Airbus” but talks between the German and French leaders on Wednesday will be far more modest in scope, officials said.

The meeting in Paris includes their entire cabinets and is the most broad-ranging yet between the two EU partners since the conservative Merkel’s re-election last year in charge of a “grand coalition” with German centre-left Social Democrats.

Feb 12, 2014

SocGen chief sees EU move to ban prop trades foundering

PARIS (Reuters) – European Commission moves to ban top EU banks from market bets with their own money will run out of momentum once this year’s health check on the sector shows it is in sound shape, the head of France’s Societe Generale (SOGN.PA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) said.

Such an outcome would be a victory for the French view that Europe’s banks have drawn lessons from the financial crisis and should now be given the regulatory room needed to compete with foreign rivals, notably from the United States.

Jan 23, 2014

Analysis: Hardest yet to come for France’s Hollande on reforms

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Francois Hollande has won cautious backing from Berlin, Brussels and financial markets for a centrist reform push that could be his last chance to get the euro zone’s second largest economy motoring.

A week after his January 14 announcement, it is not clear how and when he will pull off the public spending and tax cuts at the heart of the plan. It is also uncertain whether French business will play ball with his goal of cutting unemployment.

Jan 15, 2014

French companies, unions question Hollande’s new vision

PARIS, Jan 15 (Reuters) – French business raised doubts on
Wednesday over Socialist President Francois Hollande’s plan for
public spending cuts and structural reform to revive the euro
zone’s second largest economy.

His allies hailed a new “social democrat” vision for France
but unions said they were worried about job cuts to the army of
state sector workers and far-left politicians accused him of a
sell-out as he moved towards the political centre.

    • About Mark

      "Based in Dakar, I look after the Reuters file in West and Central Africa, except for Nigeria. Previously I covered politics and economics in Brussels, Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt and London."
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