Chief correspondent, West and Central Africa
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May 29, 2014

Le Pen as President? France thinks the unthinkable

PARIS (Reuters) – The victory of France’s far-right National Front in EU elections and the disarray of its two main parties has the French asking themselves an awkward question: could its leader Marine Le Pen be their next president?

The answer for now is: “Probably not”. But the mere fact that serious analysts are even entertaining the prospect of Le Pen entering the Elysee Palace after 2017 elections shows how much the political landscape has been shaken in the past week.

May 26, 2014

France’s Hollande wants to change EU focus after far-right win

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Francois Hollande pledged on Monday to press ahead with reforms at home whilst pushing for the EU to change tack, saying the triumph of the French far right in European elections showed voters felt Europe was not protecting them.

In a televised address to the nation a day after the anti-immigrant, anti-EU National Front party won its first-ever nationwide poll, Hollande said this had been “a vote of mistrust towards Europe.”

May 26, 2014

French UMP party accused of funding irregularities

PARIS (Reuters) – A funding scandal threatened to damage France’s opposition UMP party on Monday as the lawyer for an event organiser hired for Nicolas Sarkozy’s failed 2012 election bid accused it of having ordered fake invoices to cover huge cost over-runs.

The accusation came a day before UMP chairman Jean-Francois Cope, a Sarkozy ally who was party general secretary at the time, was expected to face challenges to his leadership at a closed-door meeting of senior UMP officials.

May 26, 2014

French PM pledges tax cuts after far-right poll triumph

PARIS (Reuters) – French Prime Minister Manuel Valls promised on Monday to unveil more tax cuts for households this year, saying the triumph of the far-right National Front in European elections showed the French were fed up with years of tax rises.

Valls stressed France would still make the budget savings needed to bring its public deficit within EU limits. But, in a potential sign of clashes ahead, left-wingers in the ruling Socialist party said the poll results vindicated their opposition to such cuts.

May 25, 2014

Far-right National Front stuns French elite with EU ‘earthquake’

PARIS (Reuters) – Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front stunned France’s political elite on Sunday as exit polls put it on track to win European Parliament elections there, with Francois Hollande’s Socialists well behind in third place.

If the FN score is confirmed, it will be the first time the anti-immigrant, anti-EU party has won a nationwide election in its four-decade history. It could secure as many as 25 seats in the new European Parliament, up from the three it won in 2009.

May 13, 2014

Book Talk: Game-changer or Marx revisited? A new tale of capital

PARIS (Reuters) – “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by French economist Thomas Piketty has attracted praise and invective alike on its way to the top of the books best-seller list.

New York Times’ columnist Paul Krugman called its findings on wealth dating back to the 18th Century a game-changer that demolishes the myth that “great wealth is earned and deserved”.

May 12, 2014

France’s Le Pen: Eurosceptics to block EU-U.S. trade pact

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s Marine Le Pen sees her far right National Front joining force with other Eurosceptic parties in the next European Parliament to block a major transatlantic trade pact billed by supporters as vital for global growth and jobs.

In an interview with Reuters less than two weeks before the May 25 European Parliament election, Le Pen forecast that anti-EU parties would together win enough seats to form a political group in the legislature, gaining access to increased EU funding and a greater say in the assembly’s running.

May 9, 2014

Hollande warns “disappointing” EU at risk of unravelling

PARIS, May 9 (Reuters) – President Francois Hollande on
Friday urged French voters in this month’s European Parliament
elections to reject Eurosceptic parties, warning that they
wanted to reverse decades of European integration.

In a column in Le Monde daily, he condemned protectionist,
anti-euro policies of the far-right National Front of Marine Le
Pen, which polls show emerging as France’s largest party in the
May 25 election amid widespread voter apathy.

Apr 9, 2014

France’s odd couple push Europe to re-think growth

PARIS (Reuters) – One is a balding, bespectacled safe-pair-of-hands known for his negotiating skills; the other a firebrand orator of the French left who made his name riling big business, Brussels and Berlin.

Step forward Finance Minister Michel Sapin and Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg, the odd couple now running the euro zone’s second largest economy since last week’s reshuffle. Their first joint task will be to explain why France again risks breaking promises to Europe to get its public finances in shape.

Apr 3, 2014

New French government to seek more leeway on deficit deadlines

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s reshuffled government lost no time on Thursday in indicating that it will seek to renegotiate its deficit-reduction deadline with the European Commission, setting it on a collision course with its EU partners.

New Finance Minister Michel Sapin hinted that Paris hoped to secure greater understanding in Brussels for its efforts to win a further delay in its budget target by parachuting his predecessor, Pierre Moscovici, into a key EU economic post.

    • 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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