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Former French President Sarkozy back in the limelight for 2017

Sarko_2017

The Economist is one of many publications profiling former French President Nicolas Sarkozy following his recent announcement that he’ll run again for the 2017 French Presidential elections. Excerpts below. What do you think of this possibility, and of the burkini ban controversy?

Mr Sarkozy formally announced his decision in a new book, “Tout pour la France” (Everything for France), published on August 24th. The next day he was due to take to the stage in the south of France for his first campaign rally. Mr Sarkozy’s platform, as outlined in the book, is a hallmark mix of economic liberalism (lower taxes, longer working hours, later retirement) and right-wing identity politics (tighter citizenship and immigration rules, a tougher stance on Islam and integration)…

…On the face of it, Mr Sarkozy’s chances of securing the nomination for “Les Républicains” (the Republicans), and getting his old job back, are not high. In polls among voters on the centre-right, he consistently trails Alain Juppé, a patrician former prime minister. A recent poll by TNS Sofres puts the gap at 30% to 37%, with François Fillon, another former prime minister, at just 8%. A broader sample of French voters also expects Mr Juppé to come top, by a big margin. Mr Sarkozy’s head-spinning mercurial style, and his tendency to prefer grandiose gestures over policy follow-through, have lost him support among centrists, who see Mr Juppé as a less divisive figure…Yet Mr Sarkozy is also a past master of the political comeback…

…Mr Sarkozy’s calculation is that, after 18 months of deadly terrorist attacks, voters on the right want a hard line on security and political Islam…A former interior minister who once set up a ministry of national identity, Mr Sarkozy has more of a record on such matters than does Mr Juppé…The French return next week for la rentrée, the start of the school year, with the country still under a state of emergency. Given such stress, political divergences are readily amplified. The primary campaign, and the election next spring, could turn out to be ugly as identity politics are thrust to the fore…

Strikes in France – what to know

France strikes - taken from The Economist (link below)

France strikes – taken from The Economist (link below)

Essential reading from The Economist (May 27)
Article here focuses on all that is going on in France.

Update May 27 from US Embassy Paris:

Full link to travel advisory

“…The following strikes have been announced for the week of May 30:

Rail – The national unions which represents rail workers renewed their call for strikes limiting rail services along the TVG, RER and SNCF networks. An “unlimited strike” is scheduled to start at 9 am on Tuesday, May 31 for a period of at least 24 hours.

Paris-area Public Transportation – The union representing the Paris metro area transportation (RATP) has called for an “unlimited strike” starting on June 2 of all public transportation services, including the Paris metro, buses, and RER trains.

Air – Air traffic controllers have also called for strikes Friday, June 3 to Sunday, June 5 which could result in delays or cancellations of flights originating in France…”

By now, you have probably heard that France has been undergoing rounds of strikes and protests over the past couple months. This is in large part due to proposed labor reforms. Of course most of you know that strikes and public outcry are a way of life in France that most people tend to accept with a shrug.

The Local France has an interesting piece on this cultural reality, as well as countless publications in the past including BBC and Slate. Even The Onion got in on the humor with a fake French protest image back in 2005.

But this time seems to be different: these are arguably the strikes with the most impact in 20 years. Taken with the ongoing “state of emergency” that France has put into place since the November terrorist attacks (and have extended), France has a palpable undercurrent of tension.

For now, what you should know about the strikes: 
These strikes are affecting transportation, oil refineries, nuclear power stations and more throughout the country. The BBC outlines the main points of the proposed reforms here along with more coverage of the action. I’ve laid those out at the end of this post.

The Economist also has an interesting piece on the strikes – anticipating action throughout the summer.

Another useful guide is from the great folks at The Local. Local resources in France for tracking news updates include the SNCF website, which currently states that traffic should start resuming to normal May 27 but to keep abreast of updates. Their travel agency Voyages SNCF also has a helpful resource for train travel updates.

You should also stay abreast of airline travel through your local airline. Aéroports de Paris does have general updates as well for Paris Orly and Paris CDG traffic.

BFM TV, Libération, France 24 and Le Monde are also great resources.

At the time of this being published, there have been clashes reported by protestors in Paris, Lyon, Nantes, Bordeaux and other major cities. Your local embassy should be the best resource for expat nationals living and traveling in France for up to date security information. The US Embassy, for example, has contact info here and updates on their Twitter feed.

Want to brush up on your French travel vocabulary? Try About.com or FluentU.

If you have travel plans to France or are thinking of moving there in the coming year, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so – just do your research and travel intelligently. I have lived in France for 30% of my entire life at different times as an intern, student, grad student, English teacher and employee. It is a place that is dear to me, and I would love for you to also have those life-changing experiences.

Travel smartly, safely and avoid protest areas. Take a lesson from my French friends and enjoy life, drink some wine and sit back to see how this evolves. C’est la vie, enfin.

French labour reform bill – main points

  • The 35-hour week remains in place, but as an average. Firms can negotiate with local trade unions on more or fewer hours from week to week, up to a maximum of 46 hours
  • Firms are given greater freedom to reduce pay
  • The law eases conditions for laying off workers, strongly regulated in France. It is hoped companies will take on more people if they know they can shed jobs in case of a downturn
  • Employers given more leeway to negotiate holidays and special leave, such as maternity or for getting married. These are currently also heavily regulated

Nationwide strikes in France set for April 5

Attention, travelers and residents in France: There will be nationwide strikes Tuesday April 5th. I’ve put an important note from the US Embassy with further info below. Stay safe and travel smart!

April 4, 2016

U.S. Embassy Paris, France

Security Message for U.S. Citizens:
Strikes in France on April 5, 2016

Several unions nationwide have called on their workers to again strike in protest of the government’s proposed reforms to the labor law.

Multiple national unions have called for country-wide strikes on Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Affected sectors include:

  • Public education and schools;
  • Postal system;
  • Aviation;
  • Waste removal;
  • Public transport; and,
  • Rail services.

Given transportation difficulties, reaching airports and train stations may take longer than usual.  Lines are likely to be long.  There could be resulting delays to trains and flights throughout France.  Travelers are advised to have their tickets in hand and to allow extra time if traveling on Wednesday.

Please consult various sources of local information as you prepare your plans forTuesday, including local TV stations and websites (to include BFMTV, Le Parisien, and France24), as well as:

RATP – Paris local transport system – for information on metros, buses, and RER lines:

http://www.ratp.fr/informer/trafic/trafic.php

Transilien – for Paris region transport:

http://www.transilien.com/info-trafic/temps-reel

SNCF – for national and regional rail travel – input the # of your train and find out whether it will run or not:

http://www.sncf.com/fr/horaires-info-trafic

Twitter feeds for your particular metro and/or RER line(s) are always very helpful, as are the Twitter feeds of the Paris Prefecture de Police (#prefpolice) and Aéroports de Paris (#AeroportsParis), the latter of which also provides information on traffic conditions to/from CDG and Orly airports.  If you live outside of Paris, consult your local transport systems and news sources, or search “greve 5 avril” in Twitter for updates.

The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens that demonstrations and large events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational.  Avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.  Large public gatherings can affect all major incoming arteries to the city in which they occur.  Demonstrations in one city have the potential to lead to additional public rallies or demonstrations in other locations around the city and country.

We strongly encourage U.S. citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. U.S. citizens are therefore urged to access local media to stay abreast of developments, avoid demonstrations, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations.

For further information:

  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in France, located at 4, Avenue Gabriel, Paris,
    +33 (1) 43 12 22 22, 9:00am – 6:00pmMonday through Friday.
    After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +33 (1) 43 12 22 22.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Economist’s France 14-page special report

November 19th, 2012 3 comments

The Economist this week has a 14-page special report this week in its print edition that focuses on France, from its economy to politics, under the central theme of how economic structural reform is necessary in order to avoid a “time bomb” going off at the heart of the Eurozone. You can access the Nov. 17, 2012 print edition contents here. The leader article introducing the special report is here, and the special report link can be found at the table of contents site under “Special report: France” (there are 8 articles).

I’m delving into all this right now and encourage you to do the same. Even if you don’t agree with the magazine’s analysis, it is a highly-regarded publication for a reason: for asking important questions.

This is the not the first time the British news magazine has waxed poetic about France’s economic woes and potential for growth. Indeed, French economic and business paper Les Echos puts past covers and stories into perspective (in French).

What do you think are France’s biggest problems and do you think Hollande and Ayrault’s government can solve them?

 

Voting from abroad in US elections (update)

If you’re American and live abroad, that does not mean you have to put your political views on hold come election time.

Make sure to check out this website Vote From Abroad for information on how to vote from other countries. A video is below. (Disclaimer: This is a Democrat-affiliated organization).

The US Embassy in Paris has also send out helpful information, below the video. The US Embassy’s page on Facebook is also a great resource.

In addition, the non-partisan, non-profit association Union of Overseas Voters has a site at WeVote.fr for tips. You can join them on Facebook.

They have also made these information sheets available for you:

Important Voting Facts for US citizens

About the Union of Overseas Voters

Flyer for help sessions in person in Paris (1st and 3rd Saturday of each month, 2-5pm at Shakespeare & Company, 37 rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris)

Merci for the helpful documents!

If you have any stories about voting from abroad, feel free to post a comment. Happy voting!

Message from US Embassy Paris

Have a say in our country’s future. One of our most treasured values is the right and the privilege to vote – to participate actively in our country’s democratic process. This November, U.S. citizens will elect a President, a Vice President, one-third of the Senate, and the entire House of Representatives. The U.S. Embassy in France encourages all U.S. citizens to participate in this year’s elections, and stands ready to help you vote.

Almost all overseas U.S. citizens can vote. Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia now allow adult children who have never resided in the United States to vote using their parents’ state of voting residence. Details are available on the FVAP website at http://www.fvap.gov/reference/nvr-res.html.

Register and request a ballot. To vote, new laws require you to complete and submit a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) this calendar year. The FPCA allows you to register to vote and request an absentee ballot. If you haven’t yet done so, we urge you to do so now. The easiest way to complete it is online at www.FVAP.gov. Depending on your State’s rules, you then send it to your local election officials electronically or by mail.

Mailing guidance. Print out the completed FPCA and the (U.S.) postage-paid envelope containing the address of your local election officials. You can drop off the postage-paid envelope (containing your FPCA) at the Embassy, and we will mail it back home for you without the need to pay international postage. If it’s easier for you to use France’s postal system, be sure to affix sufficient international postage and allow sufficient time for international mail delivery.

Embassy Paris drop box: You may drop your signed, dated, sealed FPCA registration or ballot in the Consular Section drop box:

a. Go to the Consular Section entrance of the Paris Embassy with your registration or ballot;

b. Announce that you would like to drop off voting materials;

c. Present suitable ID (preferably a passport);

d. Present the registration or ballot;

e. After the security check, place the ballot in the ballot box.

Need help? Go to the Embassy’s voting website page to receive assistance. Voting Assistance Officers or private U.S. citizen volunteers in France may also help you. (NOTE: It is acceptable for private U.S. citizens or U.S. citizens’ groups to collect FPCAs and deliver them to the Embassy on behalf of other eligible voters, as long as each FPCA is in its own U.S. postage-paid envelope.)

Make your vote count! Follow your State’s absentee voting procedures carefully. Send in your FPCA before the registration deadline. When you get your ballot, vote and mail it promptly so it reaches local election officials by your State’s absentee ballot receipt deadline.
Questions? If you have any questions about registering to vote, please contact the Paris Voting Assistance Officer by email at VoteParis@state.gov

Talk on US Elections at the American Library in Paris tonight Nov. 22

November 22nd, 2011 No comments

The University of Notre Dame Alumni Club of France and the American Library in Paris have organized an event tonight at the American Library, entitled “The US Presidential Campaign Ahead” with a talk given by Dr. Steven Ekovich from the American University of Paris. The event starts at 7:30pm. Information below. Promises to be interesting!

Notre Dame Club of France @ The Library: The US Presidential Campaign Ahead
Tue 22 November 2011 19h30
@The American Library in Paris ( 10, rue du Général Camou, 75007 Paris)

Description

The US Presidential Campaign Ahead: A second term or a new president?

Political scientist Dr. Steven Ekovich of the American University of Paris assesses President Obama’s prospects for re-election, the evolution of the American electorate since 2008, the role of the Tea Party and the Democratic left in shaping the 2012 debate, and the horse race for the Republican presidential nomination.

About Dr. Steven Ekovich

Dr. Steven Ekovich is currently an associate professor in the American University of Paris’ International and Comparative Politics Department. Previously, he was associate professor at the École Polytechnique (1984-2000). Ekovich also lectured and consulted abroad during this time, visiting almost 30 countries in Europe and Africa.

Ekovich graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a B.A. in Philosophy and History (1975), an M.A. in History (1979) and a Ph.D. in History (1984). He has also done graduate work at the University of Chicago and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris.

The American Library in Paris is a focal point for exceptional programs and performances designed to inspire, inform and enrich the community. These programs which are free and open to the public are presented @The Library in conjunction with organizations such as the Notre Dame Club of France.

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