🏛️The Weekly Dispatch - Political Battlegrounds
27 November 2022 - Abortion is almost enshrined in the French constitution, Sophie Adenot is our new french astronaut, Emmanuel Macron's campaign is investigated, and Faure has some new challengers
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🏛️The Assemblé Nationale votes to enshrine abortion in the French constitution
🏛️The Assemblé Nationale votes to enshrine abortion in the French constitution
Let’s start this weekly dispatch with some good news!
This Thursday, the Assemblée Nationale voted in favour of a constitutional law that would “guarantee the right to voluntary termination of pregnancy”, with 337 deputies voting in favour, 32 deputies voting against, and 18 deputies abstaining.
Having been put on the agenda by La France Insoumise (LFI) as part of their “parliamentary niche”, the law was broadly supported by the left and the majority in government, and by mid-day on Thursday, they had agreed on how this law should be formulated in the constitution, within Article 66:
“The law guarantees the effectiveness and equal access to the right to voluntary interruption of pregnancy”
While there was a fight over the mention of contraception, most of the parties and groups within the Assemblée were able to come to a compromise, with only Les Républicains and the Rassemblement National being divided between themselves over how to vote.
Marine Le Pen, for example, felt the need to announce that she had “not taken part in the ballot” after the result mistakenly mentioned that she had voted in favour despite having been absent for medical reasons.
Having initially tabled a draft law on this that was scheduled for next Monday, the Renaissance party was strong in its support. The Minister of Justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti, threw himself behind the law, which he called “more than necessary in these turbulent times”, and which he hailed as “a historic vote, a great honour, a great emotion”
🚀Sophie Adenot carries French hopes into space
Keeping on with the good news, the European Space Agency announced its new promotion of astronauts, and one name made the news in France.
This week, Lieutenant-Colonel Sophie Adenot became the eleventh French Astronaut, carrying the dreams of young French girls and boys with her.
Sharing the experience that brought her to this point, she said:
"I thought it was really fascinating. Since I was a little girl, I've always had this explorer's curiosity, I wanted to discover, learn new things. And when I grew up, I really had this taste for science, research and technology” She then detailed her wish to “explore the limits of the second dimension"
She has had a very interesting career: first studying engineering at the Higher Institute of Aeronautics and Space (ISAE-Supaéro) before obtaining a master’s degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She then designed helicopter cockpits for Airbus.
However, her career then took a turn, when she chose to join the French Armée de l’Air, taking part in several search and rescue flights, before joining the squadron that is responsible for transporting the head of state, government ministers, and foreign delegations.
Having done her time on earth, she clearly was looking for extra-terrestrial challenges, and following an eighteen-month selection comprised of medical, psychotechnical and psychological tests, she will now get the chance to train for her adventure in space, and for life on the International Space Station.
🔍Macron investigated over campaign financing
Heading back to the political realm, some news has been popping up on my radar in both Paris and Brussels, with Emmanuel Macron currently being targeted with two judicial investigations by the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office.
The topic? The ”conditions for the intervention of consulting firms in the 2017 and 2022 election campaigns”, but in two separate strands:
The first judicial investigation is focusing on the “non-compliant keeping of campaign accounts” as well as the “reduction of accounting elements in a campaign account”
The second judicial investigation is focusing on “favouritism” and "the “concealment of favouritism”
While these investigations will continue for a while, with the results expected next year, it should be noted that this investigation has a link to the first judicial investigation related to accusations of “aggravated laundering of tax evasion” that were levied at consulting firm McKinsey this year.
It is also important to note that, for all intents and purposes, these investigations will be unlikely to specifically target Emmanuel Macron himself as the reason for any non-compliance with campaign accounts if they find concrete proof of wrong-doing but will likely highlight problems within the work of the campaign staff.
For their part, the Élysée made a very simple statement regarding the situation:
“[We have] taken note of the communication from the national financial prosecutor's office concerning the opening of two judicial inquiries following in particular complaints from elected officials and associations "
🌹New Socialist challengers are approaching
And to cap off the week, we take another look at the Socialist party and the race to become the next first secretary of the party, with their congress currently planned for some time in January
With Olivier Faure beginning to feel the heat in the race, we’ve now had two new challengers appearing: Mayor of Rouen, Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol, and Mayor of Vaulx-en-Velin, Hélène Geoffroy.
There’s a very interesting dynamic opening in the race with those who lean more towards the far-left La France Insoumise and want to push towards a renewed, more classical Parti Socialiste.
Mayer-Rossignol, for his part, leans towards the latter option, with his position being supported by members of Anne Hidalgo’s entourage, noted firebrand, Carole Delga, and others from the old guard of the PS who are looking for a “third way” between the current leadership and the Hollandist socialist guard.
His press release outlined the following:
“Alongside Lamia El Aaraje, spokesperson for the Socialist Party and deputy mayor of Paris, Claire Fita, vice-president of the Occitanie region, and more than 1,500 signatories [Mayer-Rossignol] calls for deep refoundations of the left and will carry the ambition to install an equal pair at the head of the Socialist Party”
However, both Faure, with his more radical brand of socialism, and Mayer-Rossignol, attempting to capture the middle ground between the old and new, need to compete with Hélène Geoffroy.
Representing the opposite political line from Olivier Faure, and supported by the party heavyweights, she has already come out and outright said that she will take the PS out of the NUPES Coalition should she win the race to become the first secretary.
Regardless of the current movements and fighting, this will be a race to watch over the coming months, and with the almost expected negotiations between the old guard to fight the more extreme wing of the party, it will be interesting to see how the party grandees will weigh in on discussions.
And like always, my main question is: what will François Hollande do?
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