The French-American Foundation Weekly Brief, June 24, 2011

The French-American Foundation Weekly Brief, June 24, 2011

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde sat for a formal interview on Thursday, June 23, with the board of the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C., les Echos reported. After weeks of campaigning across the globe, Lagarde is expected to assume the leadership of the IMF, despite criticism from developing nations and top opponent Mexican Agustín Carstens of the European stronghold on the position, as explored by the Wall Street Journal.

The political scene leading up to the 2012 presidential elections continued to take shape this week, as the Communist Party was the first to hold its primaries on June 17, selecting Jean-Luc Mélenchon as its candidate with about 60 percent of the vote, as covered by Rue 89. Christine Boutin, past housing minister under President Nicolas Sarkozy and leader of France’s Christian-Democrat Party, announced her candidacy for the 2012 elections, following a run in 2002 that earned her a little more than 1 percent of the vote, according to le JDD. As the future of the majority Union for a Popular Movement party of President Nicolas Sarkozy remains uncertain, the emergence of Boutin as a Christian-Democrat candidate and the hubbub centering around the far-right National Front and its potential impact on more moderate candidates has spurred speculation that too many rightist candidates could lead to a dispersion of votes, as covered by les Echos and Metro France.

As the Socialist Party’s June 28 deadline to announce candidacies for the October primaries draws near, party secretary Martine Aubry, expected to announce her candidacy, spoke on a number of topics throughout the week. Aubry joined opposition voices from both left and right to announce the Socialist Party’s commitment to abandon the “expensive and inefficient” Hadopi law, a 2009 legislation backed by President Nicolas Sarkozy to regulate Internet access and protect copyright of online materials. Aubry promoted instead a right to access to the Internet, acknowledging the role of the Web in a modern democracy, as explored by le Monde, le JDD and Rue 89. Aubry also joined forces with German Socialist-Democrat Party president Sigmar Gabriel to call for a “European economic government” in the wake of the national economic difficulties that have shaken the entire EuroZone in the past years, as reported by Rue 89 and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

The hate-speech trial of fashion designer John Galliano got under way on Wednesday, June 22.  He faced charges linked to racist remarks made at a Paris café in February that led to his dismissal from Dior, where he had previously served as fashion director, NPR and France Info reported. After Galliano’s defense focused on his multiple addictions and lack of memory of the incident, the public prosecutor recommended a fine of at least €10,000 for Galliano’s public hate speech, though an official ruling will not be given until September 8, according to la Croix and the San Francisco Chronicle.

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The French National Assembly passed a law that requires large and mid-sized companies with more than 50 employees, to give a salary bonus to all employees if they increase dividend payouts to shareholders, Forex Yard and le JDD reported.

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