President Macron’s government disclosed

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L’Elysée (courtesy of Thomas Samson from APF via LesEchos.fr)

– Article by Alice Ferré

This article has been updated. 

As Emmanuel Macron was inaugurated on Sunday as France’s new president, he is now expected to announce his Cabinet’s choices. According to the French newspaper Le Monde, a high official declared Macron’s government will embody “the unexpected mating of Michel Rocard and Dominique Strauss-Khan,” resulting in technocratic and practical leftist politics.

The Elysée Secretary of State is the 44-year-old Alexis Khoner, also part of France’s young political elite. His role is to coordinate the cabinet officials, advise the president, and take decisions that are considered to be within the president’s political line of action. Khoner graduated from Sciences Po and the prestigious ESSEC and ENA, three schools that form the politicians of tomorrow. He also worked as the secretary of the Treasury and for the IMF before 2012. In 2014, he moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where he became the director of the Italian cruise company MSC Cruises. Described as “loyal” and “always enthusiastic” by one of his relatives, according to Le Monde, Khoner will become Macron’s right arm.

Patrick Strozda was named the Elysee Chief of Staff. The former prefect of Bretagne and head of the defense and security zone in the West of France is remembered for his iron fist during the protests last summer against the El Khomri law. He was also prefect of Corsica, one of the most delicate prefectural functions in France, from 2011 to 2013, and of other regions over the past ten years. He seems to have had no political attachments or preferences in his career, according to Le Monde.

The head of the National Security Council is Philippe Etienne, former French ambassador in Berlin. This choice underlines Macron’s will to keep strong links with Germany in a European-oriented politic. Etienne is also part of the French political elite and is a polyglot, mastering seven languages other than French, including English, Romanian, German, Russian, Spanish, and Serbo-Croatian. Etienne’s diplomatic career amounts to Belgrad and Bonn in the 1980s, and to Brussels where he was a prime counselor at the European Union in the 2000s before becoming the EU’s ambassador from 2009 to 2014. He directed Former French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner’s cabinet from 2007 to 2009. Etienne’s team is also supposed to be composed of specialists in the Middle-East and the United States.

The new president seems to have chosen an experienced cabinet aligning with his intentions and wishes for the president’s five-year term. President Macron’s pick for Prime Minister is the former mayor of the city of Havre, Edouard Philippe.

The 16 ministers appointed by the Prime Minister are:

  • Gérard Collomb as Secretary of the Interior. Collomb was one of the first politicians to endorse Macron and was in charge of collecting sponsorship signatures for his candidate. He was also the socialist mayor of Lyon since 2001.
  • Nicolas Hulot as Minister of the Ecology (equivalent to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S.). President Macron respected his promise of implementing a partly civilian government with half of the ministers having no previous political background albeit being specialists in their fields. Hulot is a widely-known ecology activist who co-founded and hosted the ecological awareness campaign and TV show “Ushuahia” for 25 years on France’s first TV channel. Former presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy, and François Hollande solicited his expertise in the past, without success.
  • François Bayrou as Minister of Justice. Bayrou is well-known on the political scene: he is the MoDem leader (a centrist party) and unsuccessfully ran for office three times. Bayrou was, however, nominated twice as Minister of Education in the 1990s and also accumulated the titles of Mayor of the city of Pau, Congressman over 35 years of political service.  He was Macron’s devoted supporter even before the first round.
  • Sylvie Goulard as the Secretary of Defense. Goulard is a pro-Europe and centrist Congressman who joined Macron’s party in 2016. Working at the European committee since 2009, she is a member of a “europhile” association over the past four years. She is defending the idea of a federal Europe.
  • Jean-Yves Le Drian as the Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs. He was previously Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs under Hollande’s government.
  • Richard Ferrand as the Minister of Territorial Cohesion; he was the first socialist to leave the Socialist Party to join En Marche! in 2016 after 18 years at the SP. Macron’s blacksmith and ally in the implementing of the “Loi Macron,” Ferrand worked at the Ministry of Social Affairs since 1991 and was one of the Finistère’s Congressmen.
  • Agnès Buzyn as the Secretary of Health and Human Services. She is also unknown in the political sphere; she is a doctor and medical studies professor, head of the National Cancer Institute. In 2016, she was the first woman to be appointed as the head of one of France’s highest independent research centers.
  • François Nyssen as the Minister of Culture. Nyssen also has no political experience but is a heavy-weight in the editorial world: she is the head of Actes Sud, received the Legion of Honor in 2013, and the title of best businesswoman in 1991. She has been co-coordinating Luc Besson’s movie label group EuropaCorp since 2011.
  • Bruno Le Maire as the Minister of Economy. Le Maire was candidate during the right party’s primaries and is accustomed to political life as he was L’Eure’s regional counselor, Secretary of State and minister. He was the first rightist politician who offered his services to Macron on May 7.
  • Muriel Penicaud as the Minister of Labor. Penicaud is Danone’s previous director of human resources. She also worked at administrative councils for SNCF and Orange. In the 1990s, she was the counselor of previous Minister of Labor, Martine Aubry.
  • Jean-Michel Blanquer as the Minister of Education. Blanquer, being the director of the prestigious management and business schools l’ESSEC, is well-respected in the educative community and could be seen as an expert, a technocrat of the educative system. He also previously worked at the Minister of Education as the right arm of Luc Chatel from 2009 to 2012.
  • Jacques Mézard as the Minister of Agriculture. Congressman of Cantal since 2008, Mézard is also representative of the extreme-left movement; however, he was a fervent Macron supporter during the presidential campaign.
  • Gérald Darmanin as the Minister of Budget (Secretary of the Treasury). Darmanin, 34, is the youngest minister. His ministry includes the management of the Treasury and Social Security. Darmanin is one of the rising stars of the rightist party Les Républicains and was Mayor and Congressman of Tourcoing.
  • Frédérique Vidal as the Minister of Superior Education, Research, and Innovation. Vidal is also not a politician but is a researcher and director of the famous Nice university and predominant research pole Sophia Antipolis.
  • Annick Girardin as the Minister of Overseas Territories. Girardin worked under the Hollande’s administration and was a regional counselor and Congressman of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon.
  • Laura Flessel as Minister of Sports. Five years after returning her sword, the former fencer, who received an Olympic medal and was six times world champion, enters the political scene. She is a member of numerous Handicap International associations.

Presidential inauguration in France: Emmanuel Macron becomes the 8th president of France’s fifth Republic

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France’s new president Emmanuel Macron during his first presidential speech, on May 14. (courtesy of RTL.fr)

– Article by Alice Ferré

On May 14, only a week away from the election, Emmanuel Macron officially became France’s newest president.
Mr. Macron is the 8th president of the Fifth Republic launched in 1958 after then-president Charles de Gaulle had orchestrated constitutional changes to reinforce the executive’s powers.

The inauguration ceremony started with a private meeting between President Macron and former President Hollande in the presidential office, the Golden Salon. Although the talk was supposed to last thirty minutes, the two politicians reappeared an hour later. Once they walked out of the Elysée, Macron walked Hollande to his car. As Hollande’s Renault Espace drove away under the applause of Macron and the public, the new president was led inside.

The swearing-in ceremony continued with the president receiving the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, the highest French order of merit for military and civil merits since 1802. President Macron entered the room to the rhythm of the symphony he had himself chose for the event, Camille Saint Saëns’ “Lauriers,” written in 1919 to celebrate the Allies’ victory.  A speech from the president of the Constitutional Council Laurent Fabius followed; it traditionally announced the results of the presidential election to remind the legitimacy of Mr. Macron’s investiture. Traditions, although, were momentarily put aside as Fabius declared Macron to be “a man of our time” with a “revolutionary” campaign.

The new president then gave his first presidential speech before television cameras and 300 guests. “The French chose hope and competitive spirit. They entrusted me with a responsibility that is an honor of which I measure the solemnity.” Macron called for more business innovation and creation in France, as well as a newly founded hope in Europe. “We need a more efficient, democratic, and political Europe because it is the instrument of our power and sovereignty. I will make sure of it.” Macron also claimed that he will devote himself to bringing the French together after years of division.

The President then saluted the military before going to La Place de L’Etoile with a presidential escort (the motorcycle cops and cavalry of the Republican Guard) to pay homage to the unknown soldier, buried under the Arc de Triomphe and symbol of all fallen French soldiers of any war France fought.
The president also insisted on visiting the three French soldiers, that were wounded in Mali and Afghanistan, at the hospital where they rest. “For my first presidential trip, I would like to be at their bedsides to defend our nation and freedom around the world,” said Macron.

Macron’s first international presidential trip will be in Germany today to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel.

 

Emmanuel Macron, the new French president to bring a fresh air of optimism and relief

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President-elect Emmanuel Macron imposed himself as the symbol of renewal, hope, unity, and resistance against extremism. The sign reads, “Together, France!” (courtesy of 20minutes.fr)

 

Emmanuel Macron, leader of the centrist party “En Marche!” was elected the new president of France this Sunday. He ousted Marine Le Pen of the National Front out of the race with a score of 65,8%. Le Pen scored 34,2%.
The participation rate amounted to 74,7% according to the French polling institute Ipsos-Sopra Steria, meaning that 25,3%, or 12 million people, did not vote. 4,2 million people left their ballots blank. It is the highest abstention rate for a second presidential tour since 1969.

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Vote participation at the presidential second tour over the years from 1965 to 2017 (courtesy of LeMonde.fr)

‘The lost credibility and legitimacy of the main political parties’

During her defeat speech, Le Pen announced that she had congratulated Macron for his victory and wished him luck to fight against “the immense challenge that France is facing.” She thanked the 11 million voters and the royalist François Dupont-Aignan from the political party La France Debout that “trusted and supported” her over the past months of campaigning for “their courageous and founding choice.”

“With such a historical and massive result for the National Front, the people designated us as the only legitimate patriotic and republican force of opposition. Those who took the responsibility to elect Mr. Macron lost their credibility and legitimacy to represent an alternative political force.”

Le Pen also pointed out that this election signed off “the decomposition of the French political scene through the elimination of the two main parties, Les Républicains and the Socialist Party, and thus reorganized the division between patriots and globalists.

She called her supporters to prepare for the legislative elections of the French Assembly on June, 11. “For those who want to choose France, defend her independence, liberty, prosperity, security, identity, and social model. For those who are worried about the next five years.”

‘Renewal of faith and strength’

President-elect Macron also thanked his voters for their trust and expressed his “profound gratefulness.”

“Nothing was written, so I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your votes and support. I will invest all my energy in being worthy of your trust.”

He also addressed the National Front and France Insoumise voters. “To all citizens, difficulties have weakened us for a long time now. I would thus like to salute all of you and respect those of you who voted for the extremes and those who doubt. I respect you.”

“I want to ensure our nation’s unity because behind each one of my words, there are men, women, children, and families. Tonight, I am talking to you. The people of France have duties to their country: we are the heirs of a grand story and humanist message. We have to transmit this story, this message, and those values to our children and carry them towards the future to give them a new lifeblood.”

“I will defend France’s interests and image; I hold this commitment before you. I will reforge the links between Europe and the peoples that form it.
I also address to all nations in the world a fraternal, peaceful, and respectful salute from France…from a France who respects its commitments towards the fight against terrorism and climate change.”

“Tonight is the night of a new page of a long story: the story of renewed hope and faith, democratic vitality, and pluralism. I will endorse the responsibility to appease the fears, rebuild the optimism, and gather the French to fight the great upcoming challenges.”

“Let us love France from tonight and for the five next years. I will, with humility and devotion, serve this country on your behalf. Vive la République et vive la France.”

Unlike in the United States, the president-elect will hold office a week after he got elected, on May, 14. Choices for prime minister and its newly formed government will also be unveiled mid-May.

Opinion: Turkey’s Democracy Has Not Died This Week

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‘No’ supporters in the Kadikoy neighborhood, Istanbul (Image by AFP for Hürriyet Daily News)

The most dubious and critical election of the republic’s history has now just passed. Reason points out that mathematically “no” has won, but this issue was not a battle between simply “yes” or “no.” The government validated 2.5 million invalid “yes” votes, and Erdoğan gave a victory speech as if to say “let it go, we won already” that befooled the people when sealed ballot boxes were still waiting to be opened.

And now, the Republic is trying to balance itself on a rock with the compromise attempts from both sides of the status quo.

First of all, the opposition has never sufficiently answered the public demand for “no.” The CHP (The Republican People’s Party) leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, was never fully ready, and the AKP (Justice and Development Party) would have shifted the helm in their favor with more chaos if the “no” had won.
All the same, Kılıçdaroğlu has done nothing but preach compromise throughout the referendum campaign. The CHP is a pro-order hallow party that stands in the way of public outrage, a party that Erdoğan should be thanking at every opportunity. In every election, it successfully suppresses the accumulated anger and energy among its grassroots who wonder if it “would be different this time.”

Secondly and more importantly, the referendum result profits a majority of big businesses and international corporate hegemonies. Local CEOs and their international partners have been the ones proposing the absolute presidency for years.

The mainstream media institutions’ publications of junk articles such as “Turkey is Following a Path Towards Dictatorship” or “Turkey’s Democracy Has Died Today” are nothing but a perpetuation of what imperialist hubs have been propagating in the past. The only issue these publications have with Erdoğan, whom they kept listing him as one of the top “most effective leaders,” is his arrogance and extreme gestures. Sent out on the web like spam emails for the past days by Western media outlets, these articles have problems not with Turkey’s democracy but with a compulsive need to sensationalize its politics.

The “yes” vote that won by a small margin will tie Erdoğan’s hands and keep an agenda that will increase the circulation of capital. It happened as they wished. This has been Kılıçdaroğlu’s mission for years.

Politically, status quo has won, even if  24 million people have “officially” said “no” to this order of things. However, this balance will not remain through compromise. The largest cities in the country, including İzmir, İstanbul, and Ankara have said “no”: A government that has lost in these places does not have the license to run the country anymore. Turkey no longer carries Erdoğan.

Hundreds of thousands of people worked for “no” during the campaign through great sacrifice. Erdoğan is aware of how many votes he stole, and even as he is still trying to cover up the mess with speeches, our hearts and reason indicate “no” has won.

Nothing is over yet, it has only begun. 24 million people should not remain silent.

The insufficient opposition is looking for new compromises as the CHP wants to pacify millions of honorable citizens who voted “no” and got their votes stolen. This treachery will be heavily paid for: A referendum designated through tyranny, deceit, and theft could have no legitimacy.

But this fight is neither between Erdoğan and the West nor between CHP and AKP; it is the fight of the people for the Republic. And yet again, the republic cannot be defended through silence.

Article by Metin Demirli

Gaddafi’s gift to former French president Nicolas Sarkozy

Last week, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was accused of receiving illegal funding for his first 2007 presidential campaign. In an interview by Mediapart last week, Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine confessed to having perpetrated these transactions for months, from the end of 2006 to beginning of 2007. According to Mr. Takieddine, starting in October 2006, the Libyan government gave him the task to hand three suitcases of euro bills over to the “UMP” candidate. The total was of five million euros. Even though Sarkozy was not charged when the case opened in 2011, this testimony brings new evidence to re-open the case. At the time, Mediapart’s accusations were not enough to convey Mr. Sarkozy. The charges were dropped and shortly after the French armed forces took over Libya to overthrow Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s government. The case was buried.

Nicolas Sarkozy, embodying the perfect example of a man of the system and involved in the political scene since 1974, is seeking re-election in May 2017. However, Mr. Takieddine’s statement could threaten his pretention to run for president again. The candidate has denied all of the accusations, offended that people could believe his accuser who also has a tumultuous relationship with the French judicial system. The businessman is indeed under formal investigation for a number of alleged offenses including receiving illegal kickbacks on French arms deals to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia from 1993 to 1995.

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Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Paris. 2007. – Rex Features/The Independent

Mr. Takieddine’s confession was undoubtedly a noble move, but what are his real motivations? Why wait ten years to reveal this information? When asked, he talks about his disillusion in French politics. “He clearly does not picture Mr. Sarkozy as France’s hero for 2017. How can a guy like him run for president once more?”, he said during the interview. But does Takieddine stand as a denouncer of political corruption, or is he trying to undermine Sarkozy’s chances to follow his agenda for a more private purpose? This would imply that he was trying to minimize allegations against him, dating back to 1993, by igniting, or re-igniting, allegations which were more recent and more explosive.

In any case, Sarkozy’s corruption draws deep cuts in his career and stains his image, which may reflect on a bigger change during the right party primaries election this month and the French Presidential election in May.

(Edit: It seems like Mr. Takieddine’s purposes have been served, as Mr. Sarkozy lost the right party primaries on November 20th)

Article by François Grenet, CAS’18

The Puppet-Masters: Who is really to fear in Trump’s America?

 

 

November 24, 2015

Cartoon by Adam Zygus/AZvision

 

 

This past week liberal America’s worst nightmare became a reality. We watched on helplessly as a man we have come to know as racist, misogynist, fear-mongering “islamophobic” (among a multitude of other qualities) be handed the pinnacle role in the US Government. For many of us, seeing those states one by one light up red was like watching years of progress disappear before our eyes.

Emotions ran high that night and continue to do so today. It seems that the post-election vibe across the East Coast, at least, is one shrouded in disbelief. But the one emotion that seems to cross cultural and societal boundaries for many minority groups is one of fear: there is so much fear as non-white members of our country. As CNN anchor Van Jones put it in a moving commentary, the results of the presidential election were a lot of things, but above all, it was a “white-lash”. Essentially, a reaction of traditional ‘white’ American culture to changing tides in racial, gender, sexuality and religious norms.

But is President-elect Donald J. Trump truly the monster we have to fear in the next four years? Yes, he will be the face we see the most. His speeches on topics that touch us dearly will anger and frustrate as ever, but can someone who has never dealt with the rabbit hole that is Washington D.C. and Congress be the nightmare we think him to be? Maybe so.

However, what is most likely is that there will be some dubious characters behind him. For example, only two days after the election did Trump bring in Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, onto the immigration transition team. Now this man is a scary character. When Kobach was questioned on his views of the border wall Trump has railed about for the entirety of his campaign, he stated that “there’s no question the wall is going to get built. The only question is how quickly will it get done and who pays for it?”

If that doesn’t rattle you, Kobach has been a major proponent of some of the most racist and anti-immigrant laws in his state. Many of us have heard of the infamous ‘Stop and Frisk’ practice in New York, but it is the lesser known, yet equally racist, SB 1070 law that Kobach was behind. This law made is possible for authorities to questions and demand identity proof of anyone who looks like an immigrant. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, “laws inspired by Arizona’s SB 1070 invite rampant racial profiling against Latinos, Asian-Americans, and others presumed to be ‘foreign’ based on how they look or sound.”

What is important to note about this information is that Kobach, like many other recruits in a Trump administration, is and has been involved with government work for a long time. People like him, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Pence know how to deal with Congress and the nuances of government work. As a business man and public personality, Donald J. Trump does not. He’s truly a fish out of water in D.C.

So is he a mere figurehead of a much more sinister group of people? Deciding who the real monsters of the next four years is going to take time. All we can do is wait and see. But one thing is for sure, the members of his cabinet are not to be underestimated.

Article by Maria Noyen, CAS’19