Political Warfare in the Courtroom?
Following his overnight indictment for a string of financial criminal charges, Nicolas Sarkozy spoke on television Wednesday for the first time since leaving the Elysée in 2012. Sarkozy had been silently watching as the Bygmalion scandal worsened, but now that he has been presented with a hefty pile of charges, he felt that “The time has come for me to explain myself.”
Sarkozy’s explanation? The Left-wing (headed by current president François Hollande) is out to get him and the charges against him are “ridiculous.” Not only did an enraged Sarkozy complain that the way he was treated by the police indicated “a desire to humiliate [me],” he also questioned the impartiality of two judges assigned to his case, including Claire Thépaut, who belongs to a leftist magistrate union. “Everything is being done to create an image of me that doesn’t align with the truth,” declared Sarkozy.
The question is, are Sarkozy’s claims of unfair treatment a desperate attempt at saving his own skin, or is he actually being targeted by his leftist rivals? Well the answer depends on who you talk to. Right leaning news outlets like Le Figaro are quick to point out that although current president Hollande is technically not involved with the investigations of Sarkozy and the UMP, the timing of the investigations couldn’t be better for Hollande as he’s currently faced with a less-than-booming economy and low approval rates. Left leaning news outlets like Le Monde, however, tell a different story: in his over twenty year political career, Sarkozy has been involved with seven different cases, but only indicted twice. And he’s not the only one getting in trouble–a long list of Sarkozy’s close advisors and colleagues have also been involved with these cases. According to his critics, Sarkozy’s questioning of his assigned judges’ impartiality is just further proof that he’s grasping at straws to escape the heat.
With all of this to deal with, Sarkozy is figuring out what to do next: he’ll announce near the end of August or the beginning of September whether he will run for President of the UMP. “I’m not a man who is easily discouraged in the face of vileness and political manipulations,” he said.
Read more at Le Figaro.
Read more at Le Monde.
France Re-kindles its Love Affair With les Bleus
After its devastating break-up with the French World Cup soccer team les Bleus in 2010, the love affair is back on. At the 2010 World Cup, France’s soccer team seemed to care much more about fighting with each other and their coaches than about making their home country proud. After striker Nicolas Anelka and captain Patrice Evra launched explicit and rude criticisms at their coach Raymond Domenech, the whole team boycotted training for one day. The team’s discord and lack of focus led to their early elimination from the tournament, and they returned home in disgrace.
This year, however, les Bleus were welcomed home with huge grins and open arms. Fans gathered at Le Bourget airport near Paris shouting “Allez les Bleus!” (Go Blues!), “Merci les Bleus!” (Thank you, Blues!), and occasionally breaking out in the national anthem. The 23 players were overjoyed, taking a few minutes to sign autographs and take pictures with the fans.
With a new coach (Didier Deschamps) and a new attitude, les Bleus gave an impressive performance in the World Cup. Victories against Honduras (3-0), Switzerland (5-2), and Nigeria (2-0) far outweighed the draw against Ecuador and the team’s final loss against Germany (0-1). Les Bleus didn’t make it to the final game, but they most definitely won back France’s heart.
Read more at Le Huffington Post.
Trouble at the Festival d’Avignon
The annual Festival d’Avignon began last week in Avignon, France on July 4th. Since its first year in 1947, the Festival d’Avignon has been one of the most important events for the world of performing arts: for the whole month of July, town of Avignon “transform[s] its architectural heritage into various performance venues” to accompany the 40+ shows that will take place during the festival.
This year, though, “the show must go on!” doesn’t ring true. The head of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), the French national trade union center, announced plans for a “massive” strike during the entire month-long festival to protest government plans to reduce unemployment benefits that seasonal theater and artistic workers receive in the off-season. CGT claims, “We are not calling for the cancellation of festivals, shows, or filmings, but rather for strikes legitimized by a majority vote.”
The cancellation of two shows and the interruption of a dress rehearsal seem to indicate that the plan to strike is indeed creating waves. It looks like the Festival d’Avignon will be even more dramatic this year than ever before.
Read more at Libération.