The French-American Foundation Weekly Brief, June 10, 2011

The French-American Foundation Weekly Brief, June 10, 2011

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde visited China and India this week as part of her campaign to take over as head of the International Monetary Fund, l’Express reported. While Lagarde described her visits to the world’s top emerging economies as “positive,” the European hopeful saw no official endorsements from Chinese or Indian leaders, according to CNN, the Financial Times, and Bloomberg. Agustin Carstens, governor of Mexico’s Central Bank and top contender with Lagarde for the IMF position, urged other emerging economies on Tuesday, June 7, to fight against the European monopoly on the leadership of the world’s top economic organization, according to the Guardian. The French government is financing Lagarde’s campaign to head the IMF, as it did partially in 2007 for Dominique Strauss-Kahn. After launching her campaign in Brazil on May 30, Lagarde will visit Portugal, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt over the weekend.

President Nicolas Sarkozy announced on Thursday, June 9, an aid plan for farmers affected by drought as France faces its hottest summer since at least 1900, Europe 1 reported. The dry conditions and limited water usage have added to the agricultural distress in France as European farmers face continuing uncertainty resulting from the recent outbreak of E. Coli with the death toll reaching 30 by Thursday, June 9, and with at least 2,600 people infected in 14 European countries, as explored by le Monde and the Wall Street Journal. As French and European agriculture workers have demanded that governments appease concerns about their products, feeling a sense of hysteria coming from Germany, where most of the deaths have occurred, the European Commission announced an aid package of 210 million on Monday, June 6, to farmers affected by the E. Coli breakout and the subsequent doubts about the safety of many fruits and vegetables across the continent, according to le Point, le Figaro and le Parisien.

Members of the National Assembly gathered on Thursday, June 9, to finalize a text to be voted on Tuesday, June 14, that would allow same-sex marriage in France, le Nouvel Observateur reported. Initial debate over the bill, proposed by the Socialist Party, saw little change in argument for and against same-sex marriage, though the permission for same-sex marriage has been named as a priority in the Socialist Party’s platform for the upcoming 2012 presidential elections, presented recently by party leader Martine Aubry. François Hollande, considered a frontrunner in the Socialist primaries for the 2012 elections, showed his support for the bill on Tuesday, June 7, saying France was ready to progress beyond its differentiation of heterosexual marriage and civil unions (the PACS) open to heterosexual and homosexual couples, a separation he called a form of discrimination. Le JDD also explored a small group of deputies from the right who have come out in favor of the bill.

Le Nouvel Observateur published extracts from the second volume of ex-President Jacques Chirac’s memoir, which covers his presidency from 1995 to 2007. Among the most discussed portions is Chirac’s commentary on his successor, current President Nicolas Sarkozy. Chirac describes his strained relationship with and distrust of the current leader, explaining why he never selected Sarkozy to serve as Prime Minister under his presidency, as explored by Time, the San Francisco Chronicle, and 20 Minutes.

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