French metro and railway workers have been on strike for almost a month to preserve privileges from an era when the trains ran on coal.
The people who suffer the most are workers on modest incomes who don’t own a car and normally commute into Paris by train; small businesses and shops which are understaffed; families that couldn’t get together for Christmas.
The unions behind the strikes claim they are fighting a “president of the rich” — Emmanuel Macron — on behalf of “the people”.
For the first time in three years, the “Normandy Four” are due to meet in Paris on Monday.
This negotiation format, consisting of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine, brought about the Minsk I and Minsk II ceasefire agreements in 2014 and 2015. Even though their implementation was incomplete, the Normandy Four was still seen as a somewhat successful example of multilateral cooperation.
French president Emmanuel Macron has startled observers with a number of policies that might seem to contradict his previously held beliefs.
Despite being pro-EU, he blocked membership talks with Albania and North Macedonia. Once clear-eyed on the Russian threat, Macron now argues for dialogue with Moscow and calls Islamic terror NATO’s number-one enemy. He even made a point of attacking political Islam.
Some hear dog whistles to the far right, assume bad faith and call Macron an Islamophobe. That is unfair to the most liberal president France has had since Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. Read more “Macron the Secret Islamophobe”
France’s once-dominant center-left and center-right parties still haven’t recovered from their defeat two years ago at the hands of Emmanuel Macron.
The Socialists got only 6 percent support in European elections on Sunday, the same share as the far left. Former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s Republicans got 8.5 percent, down from 21 percent five years ago.
Two years into Emmanuel Macron’s presidency, France’s old political parties still haven’t recovered.
The Socialists, the party of Jacques Delors and François Mitterrand, are polling at a measly 6 percent for the European elections in May. The Republicans, who trace their political roots to Charles de Gaulle, are at 12 percent. Macron’s En Marche! (Forward!) and Marine Le Pen’s National Rally split 40 percent of the vote. The remainder goes to splinter parties on the left and right. Read more “France’s Traditional Parties Still Haven’t Recovered from Macron”
Since the European Commission blocked a landmark merger of the French and German train manufacturers Alstom and Siemens, France and Germany have come out in favor of a “genuine European industrial policy” to compete with China and the United States.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the leader of Germany’s Christian Democrats and likely successor to Angela Merkel, has answered Emmanuel Macron’s call for a European “renaissance” in an op-ed for Die Welt. (English version here.)