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"France mobilises 50,000 police as voters prepare f..."



by 29 Jurors

France, officially the French Republic, is a unitary sovereign state comprising territory in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. Metropolitan France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean; due to its shape, it is often referred to in French as l’Hexagone ("The Hexagon"). France is one of only three countries (with Morocco and Spain) to have both Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines.

By area, France is the 42nd largest country in the world but the largest country in Western Europe and the European Union (EU), and the third-largest in Europe as a whole. With a population approaching 67 million, it is the 20th most populated country and the second-most populated country in the EU. France is a semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the nation's largest city and the main cultural and commercial center. The current Constitution of France, adopted by referendum on 4 October 1958, establishes the country as secular and democratic, with its sovereignty derived from the people. The nation's ideals are expressed in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, one of the world's earliest documents on human rights, which was formulated during the seminal French Revolution of the late 18th century.

France has been a major power in Europe since the Late Middle Ages, reaching the height of global prominence during the 19th and early 20th centuries, when it possessed the second-largest colonial empire in the world. Throughout its long history, France has produced many influential artists, thinkers, and scientists, and remains a prominent global center of culture. It hosts the world's fourth-largest number of cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites and receives around 83 million foreign tourists annually – the most of any country in the world.

France remains a great power with significant cultural, economic, military, and political influence in Europe and around the world. It has the world's fifth-largest military budget, third-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, and second-largest diplomatic corps. Due to its overseas regions and territories throughout the world, France has the second-largest exclusive economic zone in the world. France is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and seventh-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of total household wealth, France is the wealthiest nation in Europe and fourth in the world.

French citizens enjoy a high standard of living, and the country performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, civil liberties, and human development. France is a founding member of the United Nations, where it serves as one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. It is a member of numerous international institutions, including the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and La Francophonie. France is a founding and leading member state of the EU.

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img Simi Rehman posted a review

France remains on edge ahead of the country's most unpredictable presidential election in decades, which will take place on Sunday under heightened security conditions following the killing of a policeman in Paris. 

The Islamic State-claimed slaying of the officer on Paris' Champs Elysees thrust questions of security to the forefront of campaigning after nine months of relative calm. 

Analysts say Thursday's attack could shake up the four-way contest between far-right leader Marine Le Pen, centrist Emmanuel Macron, conservative Francois Fillon and Communist-backed firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon.

11 hours ago

img Zainab Zaidi posted a review

A day before France votes for a new president, expatriates and residents in overseas territories in the Western Hemisphere cast their ballots Saturday, with some hoping to stop a global wave of right-wing nationalism from claiming their country.

Hundreds of thousands of French nationals are eligible to vote in the United States, Canada and South America in one of the most unpredictable elections in decades, seen as crucial for the future of a deeply divided country and the beleaguered European Union.

Voting also began Saturday in many of France's overseas territories, such as the islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean.

In the rainy US capital Washington, voters cast their ballots in the election's first round at a polling station at the French embassy. 

Adrien Gontier said he was fulfilling his duty as a citizen.

"In the United States, you can see what happens when people don't vote, or vote badly," he said. "We don't want there to be a Trump in France."

14 hours ago

img Frank Zetta posted a review

Unlike the high security in France, in this Pacific Island just a two-hour flight from Australia, there is only a low level of security, if any, at polling booths after the terrorist attack in Paris on Thursday. 

The big issues are not candidates’ policies aimed at the French “metropole”, but the New Caledonian independence referendum due in 2018, and law and order.

22 hours ago

img Mark Henry posted a review

French voters have gone to the polls under heavy security in the first round of the most unpredictable presidential election in decades, with the outcome seen as vital for the future of the beleaguered European Union.

Early figures of the voter turnout were slightly higher than at the same stage in France’s 2012 election, with the final turnout on course to beat the figure of 79.48 per cent in 2012.

1 day ago

img Sohail Ahmed posted a review

France will go the the polls Sunday in the first part of its presidential election, and polls are all over the place. The four main candidates in contention:

• Centrist - Emmanuel Macron - Polling at 24% for the first round - Former left-wing Socialist and now centrist founder of the En Marche! policical party which seeks to transcend traditional political boundaries to be a transpartisan organisation. Macron has described it as being a progressive organisation of both the left and the right.

• Far-Right - Marine Le Pen - 22% - President of the National Front, a right-wing populist and nationalist political party whose major policies include opposition to French membership in the E.U., economic protectionism, a zero tolerance approach to law and order issues, and opposition to immigration. Le Pen's similarities to Donald Trump have led Trump and many of his supporters to supporty her candidacy.

• Center-Right - François Fillon - 20% - Former Prime Minister of France under President Nicolas Sarkozy, Fillon is currently the nominee of the Republicans, a major political party in France formed to "promote the ideas of the right and center". Fillon had been a front-runner until early this year when he was accused of using public funds to pay his wife and adult children for fictitious jobs.

• Far-Left - Jean-Luc Mélenchon - 19% - Founder of Unsubmissive France, a socialist party inspired in part by the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. The party platform: make it harder to lay off workers; renegotiate or exit from the E.U; shut down France's nuclear power industry and transition to other sources renewable energy; raise the minimum wage to €11.25/hr ($12/hr); withdrawal from free trade agreements; withdrawal from NATO and only act militarily within the framework UN; reduce France's 35-hour work-week toward 32 hours; and reduce the retirement age to 60.

The top two vote getters in Sunday's first round of voting advance to a runoff election on May 7th, but it's anybody's guess who that will be. Macron and Le Pen have the best chance of advancing, but all 4 major candidates have legitimate shots, and French polls haven't been very accurate and have a wide margin of error.

Runoff polls are far clearer. Macron has at least a 15-point lead against any potential foe. Mélenchon has a 15-point lead against anyone but Macron. Fillon would be an underdog against everyone except Le Pen. And Le Pen would start at least 15-points behind against every potential foe, and a 27-point underdog against first round favorite Macron. That’s a far worse position than Donald Trump was ever in.

2 days ago

img Ahmed Malik posted a review

The main gay district in Paris is full of bars, clubs and sex shops: not a place you'd expect to find support for banning same-sex marriage.

Polls suggest Marine Le Pen has plenty of support from gay voters.


3 days ago

img Lucas Lynch posted a review

During France’s first presidential debate on Monday, the leading five French presidential hopefuls traded punches on the most burning issues, ranging from immigration and Islamization, to the country’s alliances and its very sovereignty.
The timing of the debate, a month before French voters head to polls for the first round of the elections, provided candidates with a perfect opportunity to swing public sentiment in their favor. It was aired live by French channels TF1 and LCI.

on March 24, 2017

img Lucas Lynch posted a review

DONALD Trump has been blasted by the French president for claiming the former business tycoon’s friend “Jim” did not visit Paris because of Islamic terror attacks.

Francois Hollande attacked the US President for his remarks and slammed Trump for his country’s gun control laws.

Hollande said: “There is terrorism and we must fight it together.

on March 1, 2017

img Zainab Zaidi posted a review

The carpeted prayer hall at the grand mosque in the French city of Bordeaux is full on a recent Friday afternoon. Behind a sculpted wooden railing on a small raised pulpit, Tareq Oubrou, a popular imam, is delivering his sermon in French as well as Arabic.

Bilingual sermons are rare in French mosques. Most Muslim clerics in France are foreign and speak in Arabic, which most young French Muslims don't understand. Oubrou says that's one reason why Muslim religious leaders are out of touch with a generation of French Muslims.

The interpretation of Islamic scriptures is often out of sync with modern times, too, he says. He's working to change that. Oubrou says a reformation is long overdue, and he's become a leading force in working for change.

France has suffered two major terrorist attacks in recent years, both carried out by home-grown Islamist extremists. The country is home to Europe's largest Muslim population, and many French Muslims like Oubrou believe it's time to create a uniquely French brand of Islam — one that is compatible with the country's secular values and responds better to the needs of modern Muslims.

"We have to rethink Islamic doctrines in light of our times," says Oubrou. "One of the reasons for the violence is that some people are interpreting these medieval canons literally. So we have to take Islam out of the context of ancient Arab-Muslim civilizations and adapt it to a modern, globalized, secular society, like France."

Oubrou has received death threats from radicals who don't agree with him, but he has so far refused the French government's offer of protection.

"Everyone in France feels threatened by terrorists," he says. "Why should I get protection?"

In any case, he is not scared. And he wants to be free. "It's their goal to create terror and fear," he says. "As long as people keep their rhythm and serenity, it is a victory over the terrorists."

Oubrou came to France from Morocco when he was 19, originally to study medicine. Now 52, he's raised four children in France and says he's proud to be French.

The French model of society is based on the teachings of enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau – it's one of assimilation, Oubrou says, where all differences are meant to be erased. He says France emphasizes equality rather than liberty. This, he says, is the opposite of Britain and the U.S.

"In the Anglo-Saxon model, there's a preference for liberty," says Oubrou. "So the system doesn't promise equality and equal salaries. France promises equality, but falls short. And this is what creates the frustration that can lead to violence."

Oubrou says young Muslims face discrimination and often don't feel they're fully French. He says their Muslim culture is one reason for the discrimination.

"We're living in the most secular country in the world on the most secular continent, Europe," says Oubrou. "Any kind of religion in the public sphere is suspect, because French secularism was won by opposing the Catholic Church. People fought to liberate themselves from religion."

Oubrou says the French thought they'd solved the problem of religion in the public sphere when religion and the state were officially separated in 1905, and the Catholic Church's pressures receded from public life.

on February 16, 2017
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