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France 2017: And then there were eleven

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Angers, April 2017: the first time ever that the term 'Frexit' appears on a campaign poster.

Why do they do it? Just for four precious weeks of fame? For seeing their faces on billboards and being invited to Parisian television studios? For walking into the polling station on election day and finding their names printed on the ballots in the same font and size as the big political celebrities? For fulfilling […]

France 2017: Polling paradoxes

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Sondages 1

The French take delight in pointing out that they are World Champions in producing political opinion polls (only to shake their heads in disbelief and despair about their own addiction). While the claim to this honorary title may not be corroborated by empirical data, it confirms the impression of saturation that a politically interested individual […]

France 2017: Could she possibly win?

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Presidente Cover

What if the good old ‘scarecrow’ effect did not work anymore? What if Marine Le Pen managed to break the famous ‘glass ceiling’ of the French electoral system, which has kept her out of governmental responsibility so far? What if voters were no longer willing to rally around a ‘front républicain’ between round 1 and […]

France 2017: Protestant protests

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Canard

Not a good week for French democracy. It started with the communication of false figures from the first round of the Socialist primary, followed by the verdict sending Sarkozy’s former minister Claude Guéant to jail for his ‘automatic cash teller’ practices while in office. It ended up overshadowed by what is now known as #penelopegate, […]

France 2017: The Party Formerly Known as Socialist

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Socialistes et Europe

On a study trip to Brussels about fifteen years ago, a major French socialist MEP gave a good lesson in French political semantics to my student group. In a nutshell, she explained that she and her group were perfectly at ease working with all the Social-Democrats from Germany or Sweden and elsewhere, as well as […]

France 2017: Two years on, how Charlie can you be?

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Two years on still Charlie

Already two years since the Charlie Hebdo shootings, which in hindsight look like a prelude to a series the end of which does not seem to be in sight. Is Europe still Charlie? Many Europeans, the large majority of whom had never heard of this magazine before, still claim they are, and there is no […]

France 2017: Happy New Year? You must be joking!

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Button France

Come January, social pressure runs higher than ever in France. If you do not wish a smashing ‘Bonne année!’ to absolutely anybody you may come across during the entire month, you’re a social outcast. The Elysée is of course not exempt from this pressure: one of the most bizarre rituals of the French Republican Monarchy […]

France 2017: Jerrycans for Christmas!

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Cdiscount jerrycans

  In case you have friends or family in France and you don’t know what to offer them for Christmas, my suggestion is: buy them a set of jerrycans. They may come handy in 2017. Not at once, but once the summer is over, they might be more useful than ever. This advice is based […]

France 2017: The Undertakers

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Holland Sarkozy Elysee 2012

After yet another eventful week marked by Hollande’s renouncement television address, French citizens can now be sure that neither of their two last presidents will be on their ballots for the presidential elections next spring. While the media would have loved to play a game of thrones, unfolding the ‘revenge’ narrative and ask Sam to […]

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