The Weekly Dispatch - 07 November 2021
The fishing argument continues, Zemmour raises questions about his 'anti-Semitic' entourage, Hidalgo moves to round up the left, and are the Ecologists fracturing before our very eyes?
The Weekly Dispatch is your weekly summary of the major events taking place in French politics, published on Sundays in order to give you the perfect way to catch up with French news and events. (I took a slight break to move to Brussels, but we should be back on track!)
In a perfect example of why exactly the EU exists in the first place, the ongoing fishing dispute between France and the UK has shown that trust between the two countries has never been so low.
While many believe that this kind of relationship will be the new normal thanks to a degradation in British political culture following Brexit, the reality is that Franco-British relations are rapidly reaching a serious breaking point that would also have serious ramifications for the EU-UK relationship, and a knock-on effect on transatlantic relations. There have even been calls from scientists and environmentalists for Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson to call a ceasefire to prevent this dispute from derailing the COP26 summit.
However, there is some hope on the horizon, with Macron and Johnson having met on Sunday to discuss the issues, and having agreed to work on “practical measures” over the next few days to come to an agreement on “a de-escalation”, the goal is to ensure that “Practical and operational measures are taken as quickly as possible to avoid a rise in tension”.
Unfortunately, that hope may be very short lived, as the Elysee and Number 10 have now found themselves in a new argument, this time over the briefing of this call, with the British now claiming that Johnson told Macron to “withdraw their threats”. Despite ongoing talks and claims that a resolution is possible, this may be further away than we think
The only issue with this, as ever, is that this may purely be an exercise in domestic messaging from the Johnson government as in previous experiences, rendering it far less believable to analysts who are looking to understand the situation (which, I hope, is why you’re reading this).
Zemmour seduces the right while consorting with anti-semites
With the recent news that Eric Zemmour has managed to seduce a quarter of the electorate that supported François Fillon in 2017, who came in third place with 20% of the vote, the pressure around Les Républicains has increased significantly
However, his image outside of what appears to be the disaffected fringes of the right continues to take a hit, this time due to his entourage.
Yaël Braun-Pivet, president of the Law Commission of the French Assemblée nationale and deputy for the governing party La République En Marche, highlighted her concerns that he is surrounded by “he is surrounded by a certain number of people who are very clearly anti-Semites”.
Having received anti-Semitic insults and threats herself in February of this year, Braun-Pivet is highlighting an issue that many people of religious denominations (and women, and of migrant backgrounds) are having with the far-right firebrand. Let’s not forget that this is a soon-to-be Presidential Candidate who has made it a career defining trait to other and attack anything that isn’t a white, Christian, French man, and will promote an even more divisive society.
Hidalgo lassos the left
Following her primary win to become the candidate for the Parti Socialiste, Anne Hidalgo has moved to quickly consolidate her position as the successor to former French President, François Hollande.
It was for this reason that Hidalgo invited the former president to help her to accelerate her campaign, traveling the town where Hollande used to be mayor before becoming the First Secretary of the Socialist party in the late 90s, when he succeeded former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.
With the current socialist candidate sitting at 5% in active polls, and looking worse for wear if you look at current media coverage, the former president was quick to remind journalists that he was far from the favourite during the 2012 campaign, and reminded everyone that the socialist campaign was only just getting started, and wouldn’t go into full swing until mid-January 2022.
Hollande even aimed a sharp barb at Eric Zemmour, reminding the upstart that being in the “the media space for a few months before the election is not the same as being a candidate”.
The former president made a very good point about the reliance on polling at this point of the campaign, and is right to highlight that things change very quickly, particularly as our concitoyens begin to formulate their decision on who they’ll vote for. However, with the ongoing campaign targeting Hidalgo’s managing of Paris, most notably the #SaccageParis campaign (and hashtag on twitter), it may not be as easy as the socialists would hope.
Following the Ecological primaries, and her loss to Yannick Jadot, it appears that radical ecologist Sandrine Rousseau is slowly repositioning herself to align with the far-left, anti-capitalist firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
Potentially being the beginning of what could very well lead to the fracturing of the once ascendant EELV, Rousseau’s move to appear next to the divisive, and often violent Mélenchon, could be the end of what was the union of ecological politicians and actors that had once been of genuine worry to Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen.