The Rise of the Right, Rooftops, and More: This Week in the French Press

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In this week’s newspapers: the shift of the French senate to the right (and the extreme right) and an attempt to get Parisian rooftops protected.

Senatorial elections see shift to the right

The French Senate was chosen on Sunday, September 28, in France by a “super electorate” of elected representatives. This takes place every three years with the aim of renewing half the seats of the Senate.

On Sunday, the Front National (France’s extreme right party) won its first two seats in the French Senate. The results saw a swing to the right, meaning that the Parti Socialiste (President Hollande’s party) lost its majority in the upper house of parliament, although it still controls the lower National Assembly, France’s dominant legislative body.

How big of a success is this for the Front National (FN)? The party will now take control of 11 towns and a recent opinion poll revealed that Marine Le Pen, leader of the FN, would beat Hollande in 2017 if the two parties came face to face (France 24). Although worrisome, this turn of events did not come as a shock to the French: a poll on Le Parisien indicates over 90% of readers aren’t surprised by the FN’s entry into the Senate.

However, the swing to the right has caused worry over the future of the Senate. Didier Guillaume, senator of the Drôme department, expressed his concern asking,  “will the Senate still exist tomorrow?” (L’Express). The concern derives not only from the success of the FN and the swing to the right, but from the party politics that seems to be taking hold of this institution. Others are more preoccupied about the lack of a female representatives in the Senate – 40 women to 139 men were elected on Sunday (Atlantico).

Social security deficit targets families

Marisol Touraine, France’s social affairs minister, revealed this week that France’s social security system is €11.7 billion (approx. $14.8 billion) over budget, and this figure could increase by €3 billion over the next year if money-saving measures aren’t taken (Le Monde).

Hardest hit by changes in the budget will be families, particularly mothers, as it is expected that the duration of parental leave will be cut in half. The prime de naissance is also expected to be reduced: currently the state pays out €923 on the birth of a child. The payment is designed to help families cover the cost of equipment.

The government not only supports cuts in these areas as a financial endeavor, but as a method to encourage women back into the workforce. Some are asking what place family policy has in an economic matter (RTL). Olivier Burreyer, founder of the blog Les Crises, criticizes the government, saying that the most important priority should be tackling unemployment rather than making cuts: “where are the 6 million jobs?” (BFMTV).

Paris wants UNESCO status for its rooftops

Sitting on a Parisian balcony, looking over hundreds of grey tin rooftops is, to many, the one of the archetypal images of Paris.

Thus, Delphine Bürkli, the mayor of the 9th arrondissement, will lodge an official application for the rooftops of Paris to be recognized  by UNESCO. A strategy will also have to be suggested as to how to protect the rooftops as well as highlight their tourist dimension (MetroNews). There are talks of opening more bars and swimming pools on rooftops, as well as going green – it has been proposed that 100 hectares of rooftops will be used as gardens, 30% of which will be dedicated to growing fruit and vegetables (20 minutes).

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