events in France (#1)
||To better understand
a country, it is useful to read its press and watch its TV. You
can see what are the main issues for the people, what are the
current controversies (the French are very good at that...).
In this section, I try to register, month after month, the main
topics for the French.
| WARNING ! The comments
below do NOT reflect MY own opinion but are a tentative synthesis
of what comes out from the French press and TV in a given month
! do express my own opinions on page Editorial
This page concerns 2005 and 2006 : for
2007 and 2008, click here.
- 2006 December, November,
June, May ,
importance of events
in French medias in 2005
- 2005 December, November,
- More in Harriet's diary...
| Webmaster Philippe Rochefort and wife
Harriet discussing current world affairs in a French bistrot.
| What was making the headlines (in 2006)...
- December :
- Rock star Johnny
Hallyday announces that he will move to Switzerland to pay
less taxes : national uproar right up to the President of France
- November :
- For the first time, the Socialist
Party nominated a woman, Segolene Royal, as its candidate for
the presidential elections next Spring.
every year, the first page of all newspapers comment the literary
prizes, the most prestigious going this year to foreign authors
who write in French : Goncourt Prize to Jonathan Littell (American)
for Les bienveillantes, Femina to Nancy Huston (Canadian),
Renaudot to Alain Mabanckou (Congolese). Who says that the French
are chauvisnists ?
- October :
- As the anniversary of the violent
suburban riots approaches, all medias report on what has been
done and what should have been done
- The 2007 presidential campaign
is now omni-present with the two probable adversaries, N.Sarlozy
for the Right and S.Royal for the Left, but also many other candidates,
all of them making a lot of noise ; on a project of privatization
of the gas utilitty Gaz de France, the Left submitted 137,347
amendments in the National Assembly (50 tons of paper...) !
- As usual in Summer, most of
the news refer to Summer and vacation, except of course for the
war in Lebanon
- the country is overcome by a
heat wave (>38°C = 100°F) and everybody remembers
2003 when such a weather killed 15,000 due to the lack of precaution
in retirement homes and with people living alone
- the government is trying to
re-consider the situation of illegal immigrants,
and on a case by case basis, give them permits to stay or expell
them : to block the potential expulsion of children of illegal
immigrants, thousands of parents of French children try to "sponsor"
a schoolkid, often through parents associations
- France is doing much better
than expected in the Football World Cup and everybody
is in a better mood.... Of course everybody was shocked by the
incident with Zidane,
one of the most loved French personalities.
- the government of de Villepin
is totally discredited and even its own (large) majority
does not support it on issues such as the merging of two utilities
: Suez (private) and Gaz de France (state-owned), a very sensible
operation opposed by part of the Left
- now (and until the elections
next year) there is something every day about what any of the
would-be candidates has said ; it looks like an old movie
and one can rarely read anything new except sometimes by Ségolene Royal...
- Another French Watergate : a
political scandal, "l'affaire Clearstream",
adds to the discredit of the French political class... ; the
name of several French politicians, including Nicola Sarkozy,
had been added to a list of customers of a Luxemburger bank ;
his ennemy, the current Prime Minister, concealed that it had
been established it was a forgery....
A survey about "the
main concerns of the French" (Source : TNS/SOFRES, Oct.2006)
gives the following results :
- Unemployment and jobs : 62%
- Purchasing power : 42% (stable)
- Health, quality of medical care
: 42% (growing)
- Financing of pensions : 40%
- Social inequalities : 39%
- School and quality of education
- Environment and pollution :
- Crime and safety : 28%
- Financing of social security
- Housing : 22%
- Role of family : 18%
- Globalization : 17%
- Road safety : 16%
According to TNS Media Intelligence,
in the first semester 2006, the respective importance of events
in French medias measured in UBM (see he definition below
in the comments for 2005) was :
(but the Football World Cup scores
32900 UBM on 33 days only!)
- The political campaign has started
for the 2007 Presidential elections : Chirac is politically
dead and there are more than 20 would-be candidates, including
Royal, who wants to be seen as a new kind of politician
- Finally, the government is
defeated and withdraws the controversial law after more than
two months of demonstrations. The Prime Minister is ridiculed
(and the jobless rate remains unaffected...).
- Huge student demonstrations
all over the country to protest against a law creating a new
labour contract (CPE = Contrat Première Embauche) aimed
at reducing unemployment for people under 26 and less protective
than the traditional CDI (Contrat à Durée Indéterminée)
: read about
it. and see a
tentative explanation of this typically French social crisis.
Most French universities are on strike. Read a column about how
hard it is to be French
and young !
- The country is horrified by
a villainous crime with ugly racist overtones: a multi-ethnic
gang from a Parisian suburb kidnapped and killed a young Jewish
shopkeeper after three weeks of torture ; the head of the gang,
who called himself (in English) "the brain of the barbarians"
managed to escape to his country, the Ivory Coast.
- after three weeks of torture
The publication of satirical drawings by a Danish newspaper
infuriates Muslims worldwide ; French Muslims associations protest
but adopt a very moderate stance, although a French newspaper
(France Soir) published them and another one (Charlie
Hebdo) published a drawing of Mahomet with the following
caption "Outflanked by fundamentalists, Mahomet says : It's
hard to be loved by (expletive deleted)"...
- the parliamentary hearings about
the Outreau judiciary scandal (see December 2005) is broadcasted
live every evening and illustrates shameful mistakes from all
- Following a large national debate
about racism and colonialism, President Chirac proposes a national
day of commemoration (May 10) for the historical crime of slave
trade and its influence on racism (read more).
| What was making the headlines in 2005...
- Following the Nov. riots, a
huge (and probably useful...) controversy on the colonial
past of France. Read my editorial
- The end of a horrible miscarriage
of justice : in Outreau (Northern France), the four children
of a pedophilic couple denounced all the adults they knew for
atrocious rapes and torture on them with no other proof than
what they said. Due to the incompetence and laziness of everyone
(police, judges, experts,..) fourteen neighbours were sent to
jail and spent up to three years there before the case came to
court. In the final judgement, all all them were declared totally
innocent. The whole country is horrified, the president apologizes,
the press is hysterical, etc...
- Violent urban riots in
the North-East suburbs of Paris spreading all over the country
; the country is appalled by the realization of this social and
and the controversy raises about the zero-tolerance policy of
Interior minister Sarkozy.
As usual, the country is divided (note that in France, unlike
in America, the poorest disticts are in suburbs and the richest
in city centers). See more
comments about the riots and see "la
Haine", a premonitory film.
- France is worried about bird
flu : by far the first producer of chickens in Europe, France
is on the way from and back home of millions of migratory birds
(see the controversy with European regulation about
hunting...). Turkey, Romania, Greece : who is next ?
- A state-owned ferry company,
SNCM (Corsica), is being privatized : unhappy workers
hijack a ferry boat and the government pulls back ; read more about it.
After a three-week strike which ruined the harbor of Marseille
and the economy of Corsica, back to square one : the privatization
- End August/early Sept. : all
French political parties hold their "universités
d'été" (Summer universities) : this year one
of the main issues is the survival of the Socialist party
which supported the "Yes" vote to the European Constitution
when most of its members voted "No" : France is the
only country in Europe where the Socialist party did not become
clearly social-democrat but remains officially "marxist"
- President Chirac suffers
a minor stroke : will he run again in 2007 (he will be 75...)
? Will he challenge Sarkozy
- Hurricane Katrina in
Louisiana : it re-inforced all the commonly shared prejudices
about racism in the USA (which is very ironical when you see
what happened in France two months later...)
- Zineddine Zidane
returns to the national foot-ball team : there is hope for the
coming World Championship !
- "Cecilia abandons Nicolas"
: Nicolas Sarkozy did what French politicians never do
: putting ahead family values and campaigning with his wife and
son ; she runs away with a lover; the whole country cracks up
independent organization, TNS Media Intelligence, ranks
the respective importance of events in the French media by
measuring them in "Unités de Bruit Médiatique
UBM" which take into account the volume of coverage, the
number of readers/viewers. Following are the results for 2005
(Source : Le Figaro, Jan.11, 2006)
Most covered corporations
(French TV channel / private)
(French Train Company / state owned)
(French electricity utility / state owned, being privatized)
(French car-maker / privatized)
France (French airlines / privatized)
Most covered politicians
de Villepin (Prime Minister)
| Nicolas Sarkozy (leader of the Majority
Pierre Raffarin (former Prime Minister)
| François Hollande (leader of the
Socialist Party PS)
Most covered topics
Most covered one-day
of Pope Jean Paul II
of Pope Benedict XVI to the Youth World Meeting (19/8)
is not chosen for the 2012 Olympic Games (6/7)
Tsunami in South East Asia (3/1)
bombings in London (8/7)
of the Holocaust in Auschwitz (27/1)
French plane crashes in Venezuela : 152 victims (17/8)
"No" vote wins 55% in the referendum on the European
flight of the new Airbus A380 (27/4)
| Liberation of Florence Aubenas, a French journalist
hostage in Iraq (17/6)
| To related pages : next years : 2013 (#4), 2009 to 2012 (#3), 2007&2008 (#2), 2009 (#3),
French society, major French issues, strengths
and weaknesses of France, etc...
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Back to home
Rochefort writes articles and books about France and the French.
Order her books:
- "Joie de Vivre", Secrets of Wining, Dining and Romancing like the French, St.Martin's Press, New York, 2012
- "French Toast, An American in Paris
Celebrates The Maddening Mysteries of the French", St.Martin's Press,
New York, 1999
- "French Fried, The Culinary Capers
of An American in Paris", St.Martin's Press, New York, 2001
More on Harriet's books (excerpts, upcoming
events, testimonials, etc..)
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