France. According to Countryaah website, national day of France is every July 14. The first round of the presidential election in April became a political scare when right-wing extremist National Front candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen unexpectedly received more votes than Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. The second round thus stood between Le Pen and the incumbent President Jacques Chirac, while socialist Jospin bitterly announced that he was leaving and left politics for good. Low turnout and a divided left contributed to the unexpected result.
The political establishment, including virtually the entire left and the environmental movement, gathered for a power demonstration against the xenophobic Le Pen in the second round of May 5, and Chirac won with just over 82% of the vote. The next day he appointed Jean-Pierre Raffarin as Prime Minister. Raffarin, from the Liberal Party DL, formed an interim government of the center and right parties dominated by Chirac’s Conservative Assembly for the Republic, RPR.
The bourgeois bloc consolidated its dominance in elections to the National Assembly in June. The Socialists lost 101 seats and the Allied Communist Party made its second worst election since it was founded in 1920. Le Pen failed to consolidate its past successes; The national front did not receive a single mandate. The government of the refinery remained unchanged.
In November, the victorious Alliance UMP (Union for President Majority) was transformed into a new party that brought together the previously so divided French right. The party retained the abbreviation but called itself the Union for popular movement. It included the RPR, the liberal DL and parts of the Union for French democracy, the UDF. Former Prime Minister Alain Juppé was elected leader. The UMP had a satisfactory majority with 400 of the 577 seats in the National Assembly. Many saw the new party as a first step towards a two-party system in France.
President Chirac was charged with attempted murder during a parade on National Day July 14, when a man fired a shot at him. The perpetrator was quickly overpowered and no one was injured. The man was reported to have acted on his own, but a right-wing extremist group he had contact with, Radical Unity (UR), was banned a few weeks later as a result of the attempted assault.
The widespread strikes and the social unrest that some predicted after the right’s success in the elections failed. Yet in practice, the government tore up, among other things. the 35-hour week introduced by the socialists. In October, however, large demonstrations were held against planned cuts and sales of state-owned companies. However, the plans proceeded on a sale of the airline Air France and in November the government announced that under certain conditions France would be ready to deregulate the electricity market within a few years.
In the autumn, it was clear that France risked a warning from the EU about weak government finances. The budget deficit was estimated to be too close to the three percent limit of the Stability Pact. The government still refused to promise to try to reduce the deficit and announced that election promises on tax cuts and more money for police and defense would be fulfilled.
President Macron gets covid-19
President Emmanuel Macron falls ill with covid-19 and is quarantined, as are a number of European leaders who have recently met him, including French Prime Minister Jean Castex, European Council President Charles Michel and heads of government of Spain, Portugal and Luxembourg.
New protests against controversial police teams
Thousands of French people are protesting for the third weekend in a row against bills that make it a crime to publish pictures of police officers on duty (see November 24). Demonstrations are held in Paris and in several other major cities such as Lyon, Montpellier and Strasbourg and more. According to the organizers, 60,000 people are participating across the country, while the authorities estimate the number at 26,000. During the demonstrations the weekend before, almost 100 people had been arrested and more than 60 police officers injured.
Bills must curb radical Islamism
Prime Minister Jean Castex reports on a new law that the government is drafting with the aim of counteracting radical Islamism. Schools where education is judged to incite radical Islamism will be banned and it will be more difficult to get permission to homeschool children over the age of three. It also becomes criminal for doctors to perform checks to determine if a girl is a virgin or not. Another change is that people who get married should be interviewed separately before the ceremony to ensure that the marriage is not entered into by force. According to the plans, the bill will be presented to the National Assembly in early 2021.