A Week in France / February 2, 2014: Traveling President

Photo: Quinn Dombrowski for flickr

Photo: Quinn Dombrowski for flickr

Every Sunday, La Jeune Politique looks back on the headlines from the last week, giving you the chance to catch up on the articles you missed and more.

IN THE NEWS

Hollande visits Turkey to repair relations. In an effort to repair French relations with Turkey, French President François Hollande traveled to Ankara on Monday, January 27 for a two-day visit. The trip to the capital was fraught with political implications, both due to upcoming ministerial elections in Turkey and the country’s efforts to join the European Union (EU), of which France has been a major opponent for the past three years.

Hollande in Holland. President François Hollande’s trip to the Netherlands last Monday marked the first time a French president has made an official visit to the country in 14 years. It was Hollande in Holland — his first trip abroad since a January 14 press conference at the Elysée, when he announced significant economic changes that have shaken Parti Socialiste supporters but have won praise from the right. The trip marked the beginning of a series of foreign visits over the next few weeks, as Hollande, battling historically low approval ratings and a rocky personal situation, trumpets his new plans to bolster the French economy through a more free-market orientation and put Europe back track towards economic recovery.

Threatened abortion rights in Spain spark concern in France. On January 20, the French Parliament opened debates over a new set of laws regarding gender equality. The bill included an amendment of a 1975 law that allows abortion. The amendment, passed on January 21, removes the requirement that a woman must be in a situation of “distress” in order to have an abortion. More precisely, the words, “the woman who is put in a situation of distress by her pregnancy” were replaced by, “the woman who does not wish to continue her pregnancy.” Many argued that because the “distress” clause was rarely applied, the amendment only simplified the process – in a country where 100% of the costs of an abortion are now covered by social security.

European leaders respond to “NSA reform”. Data protection and privacy, rights contained in Article 8 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, have often triggered differences of opinions and policy between the US and Europe. The recent disclosures by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden did little to help. Following months controversy, President Barack Obama committed to reforming the NSA in a speech on January 17.

Court case involving “anti-white” racism unprecedented in France. Arnaud Djender was convicted by the Appeal Court of Paris for racism and sentenced to four years of imprisonment on January 21. The case is doubly unprecedented, as the racist aggression was directed against a white person, and also it is the first time an anti-racism association, the LICRA (Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l’Antisémitisme), has acted as a plaintiff backing the prosecution.

Admissions Post-Bac: application website for higher education revamped. “The University, a choice that works me.” So reads the new slogan for the renovated 2014 “Admission Post-Bac” website, the national portal for preregistration into France’s schools of higher education.  The website, similar to the Common App interface in the United States, serves both public and private post-secondary institutions.  Planned to undergo significant renovation over the next two years, the goal of Admission Post-Bac (APB) is to simplify enrollment in higher education by coordinating both the aspirations of prospective students and the availability of spots at the nation’s universities.

Protect your country houses, Frenchmen! A message for the French in 2014: keep your homes well secured, and your vacant holiday residences in the country even more so. Burglaries and thefts throughout France saw a disheartening rise in 2013 — 6.4 percent in cities and 4.7 percent in rural areas according to Le Monde. These increases aren’t anything new, unfortunately, after similarly steep rises in robberies occurred in 2011 and 2012. The trend has people worried and likely questioning the methods of French Interior Minister Manuel Valls. Combatting increases in national burglary rates was one of his biggest goals at the start of 2013.

Small bookstores win again against Amazon. After years of debate, French booksellers won another victory earlier this month against Amazon and other large booksellers, when the French Senate banned the practice of free shipping, one of the perks of using many online megastores.

OUR EXCLUSIVE CONTENT

Witnessing hostage liberation, student examines what it means to be a journalist. In an effort to remember the past when the world is looking to the future in the form of countless New Year’s Resolutions, Radio France dedicated its Jan. 6 evening broadcast to support and remember four hostages abducted in northern Syria seven months ago —Didier François, Edouard Elias, Nicolas Hénin, and Pierre Torres.

IN OTHER NEWS

The end of “cumul des mandats.” It was a French specificity, and it will soon not exist anymore. The National Assembly voted this Wednesday in favor of the abolition of the “cumul des mandats,” a practice that consisted for an elected official to hold several offices simultaneously, generally a MP office and a local office. While the Senate had voted against this reform, the National Assembly had the final word and the law will concern senators as well as representatives and MEP.

French prisoner in Indonesia freed after 14 years. Michaël Blanc, who was jailed for 14 years in Indonesia, after being caught with 3.8 kilos of cannabis at the airport custom in 1999, was freed today. At the time of his trial, he was supported by a large popular movement who criticized the harshness of his sentence. He still has to spend the remaining six years of his sentence in Indonesia before he can leave the country.

The end of Goodyear-Amiens. After years of fighting, the CGT union has reached a deal with the directors of Goodyear regarding the closing of Amiens plant. Severance will be tripled for all employees. The employees, who have been occupying the plant for two weeks, will also contest in court the economic justification for the closing of the plant. Minister of Economic Recovery Arnaud Montebourg is hopeful to convince Titan to buy the site in the following months.

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