La Belle France

Socialists routed in French local elections; new prime minister named

Featured image In 2012, the French narrowly elected Socialist Party candidate Francoise Hollande to be their president. Polls showed that even as they did so, voters had little confidence in Hollande’s ability to deal with the economy. His victory seemed to stem in part from the electorate’s dislike, on a personal level, of Nicolas Sarkozy. Hmm. No confidence in the leftist, but ill-will towards the center-right candidate? Sounds like President Obama’s reelection »

Francois Hollande, the toast of Tel Aviv

Featured image French President Francois Hollande is visiting Israel and receiving the red carpet treatment. That’s a far cry from the treatment he’s receiving back home where he is an object of ridicule and possessor of the lowest approval rating of any French president since 1958. Hollande’s welcome in Israel is, of course, the result of French opposition to a deal with Iran that Israelis believe, correctly in my view, would have »

France stalls Obama’s capitulation to Iran

Featured image Intensive negotiations between Iran and the West over Iran’s nuclear program have failed to produce an agreement. The parties will try again on November 20. Reports during the past few days had indicated that a deal was imminent. The deal would have eased sanctions against Iran considerably. In exchange, Iran would have promised to freeze parts of its nuclear program for six months. But it would not have halted all »

France intervenes in Mali; media stays at home (UPDATED)

Featured image France, under its Socialist President Francois Hollande, has dispatched 400 troops backed by helicopter gunships and fighter aircraft to stop the advance of al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels in Mali. As Max Boot summarizes the situation: “While the United Nations passed toothless resolutions and the U.S. expressed concern but did nothing, France’s President, Francois Hollande, acted.” As part of its campaign, France has bombarded Gao, a major city controlled by the »

While the French government flounders, its opposition flames

Featured image Last week, I mentioned the bitter fight to determine who will succeed Nicolas Sarkozy as leader of the UMP, France’s conservative party. At the time Jean-Francois Cope, the more conservative candidate, appeared to have defeated former Prime Minister (under Sarkozy) Francois Fillon by fewer than 1,000 votes, but Fillon had not recogized the result. A week later, Cope is officially the winner, but Fillon still doesn’t accept the result. And »

France loses top credit rating

Featured image There has been plenty of speculation that France may become Europe’s next economic basket case. The Economist, for example, last week declared France a “time bomb at the heart of Europe.” The French government responded by calling the Economist’s crtique “sensationalist journalism” and claiming that it lacked “even-handedness.” However, Moody, presumably an even-handed, non-sensationalist outfit, has just downgraded France’s credit rating. It lowered the rating one notch, from Aaa to »

L’affaire DSK

Featured image Edward Jay Epstein is the author, most recently, of the ebook Three Days in May. He is an incomparable investigative journalist. In his new book, he explores the mysteries surrounding the highly consequential scandal in which Dominique Strauss-Kahn ensnared himself. I had dinner with Ed in New York on Friday night. After dinner, we stopped at one of the bars in the lobby of the Waldrof Astoria, where I was »

As The World Turns, Part Two

Featured image Segolene Royal has lost her catfight, or whatever it was, with Valerie Trierweiler. As I mentioned yesterday, Royal was the long-time “companion” of France’s new president Francois Hollande, and the mother of his four children. An unsuccessful candidate for president in 2007, Royal ran for parliament this year with the expectation of becoming Speaker of the National Assembly. But Hollande’s new “companion,” the journalist Valerie Trierweiler, tweeted an endorsement of »

As the world turns, French edition

Featured image The French tend to view American politics with a mixture of bemusement and condescension. Yet French politics has a soap opera quality that America cannot match. And it’s not as if that politics is producing presidents that make one forget Charles de Gaulle. The latest soap opera installment involves France’s new president Francois Hollande and the parliamentary run-off elections being held this weekend. Hollande’s former long-time lover and the mother »

The DSK affair: One year later

Featured image Edward Jay Epstein writes on the occasion of the anniversary yesterday of the events giving rise to the disgrace of Dominique Strauss-Kahn: When Dominique Strauss-Kahn stepped out of the shower in his $3,000 a night suite at the Sofitel Hotel in New York one year ago May 14, he was fully on track to become the next President of France. As head of the International Monetary Fund he was now »

Sarkozy defeated; Socialist elected

Featured image As expected, Socialist Francois Hollande has defeated incumbent president Nicloas Sarkozy. With half the vote counted, Holland leads 51-49. French polling agencies project that Hollande will end up capturing between 52 and 53 percent of the final vote. With so many factors working against him — above all, the economy — Sarkozy ended up running fairly well. But France nonetheless will be saddled with a Socialist president and, by most »

The left is on the rise in France and England

Featured image France is poised to elect Socialist Francois Hollande as its president this weekend. The latest blow to incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy occurred when centrist Francois Bayrou, the fourth place finisher in the first round, announced that he would vote for Hollande. Bayrou said he would do so despite his opposition to Hollande’s pledge to back out of an EU agreement binding France to reduce its deficit. The centrist leader cited Sarkozy’s »

Le Pen declines to back Sarkozy

Featured image As expected, Marine Le Pen has declined to endorse Nicolas Sarkozy for president in Sunday’s run-off election. Her decision is probably the final nail in Sarkozy’s electoral coffin. Le Pen finished a strong third in the preliminary election, and support from her right-leaning voters is crucial to Sarkozy’s hopes of defeating Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande. Some have estimated that Sarkozy needs 80 percent of Le Pen’s vote. But polls »

Edward Jay Epstein: Three Days in May

Featured image Edward Jay Epstein is the author of notable books including several that are derived in one way or another from his relationship with the late, legendary CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton. He is also the author of the short, new e-book on l’affaire DSK that has just been published. In today’s New York Times, Joe Nocera devotes a good column to the book under the headline “Power, sex, and »

More Bad News for Sarkozy and for France

Featured image French unemployment has risen to 2.88 million, the largest number of unemployed since 1999. The unemployment rate rose to 9.3 percent. This is the eleventh consecutive months in which the unemployment rate increased. Although it could be worse, Spain’s unemployment rate is 24.4, the French jobs picture seems dire enough to ensure the defeat of President Nicolas Sarkozy. Nor is this the only bad economic news. French household spending fell »

Sarko — Going, Going, But Not Yet Gone

Featured image The French voters have winnowed a ten-person presidential field down to two – Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande (the first place finisher) and incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy, who finished second. Ultra-nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen finished a very strong third. Here are the latest results that I have seen, rounded to the nearest half percent: Hollande – 29 percent Sarkozy – 26 percent Le Pen – 18. 5 percent Jean-Luc Mélenchon »