France

Ghosts of the past return

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Homophobia is back on the political agenda of the right across Europe, writes Colin Wilson. But there is also potential for resistance if LGBT people unite with anti-cuts groups and trade unionists.

The right-wing homophobes have come out of the closet. Most Tory MPs voted against same-sex marriage. Ukip -currently at double figures in the polls - opposes gay marriage, and local Ukip members have put out leaflets claiming that children "have the right to a father and a mother." The Tories have failed to revive the economy, and with no end to cuts and falling pay in sight. In this context the right are desperate for scapegoats - attacking benefit claimants, immigrants, Muslims and now LGBT people.

Resisting intervention: imperialism and protest in Mali

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Leo Zeilig looks at the latest episode in a long and bloody history of Western imperialism in Africa, fuelled by the scramble for the continent's resources

When French troops entered Mali on 11 January the mainstream media and politicians heralded the intervention as a humanitarian exercise to flush out Islamic militants. The calculation was simple. West Africa was now awash with an array of Islamic terrorists, many aligned with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and they presented the region and the world with the greatest threat to security. Apparently these militants had capitalised on "ungovernable spaces" in West Africa.

These bellicose declarations are mostly false and obscure what is really happening on the continent.

The end of Hollande's honeymoon

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"There's a growing anger, a feeling of powerlessness." These were the words of one volunteer for the French charity Solidarity following dawn raids and forced evacuations of Roma camps across France. The raids left hundreds homeless and many more instantly deported.

In the same week in mid-August riots broke out in the northern city of Amiens, the first major civil unrest since François Hollande won the presidency in May, the first Socialist Party candidate to do so since 1995.

Algeria's bitter struggle for freedom

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Fifty years since Algerian independence Ian Birchall looks at the uprising that forced the French to leave

In July 1962 Algeria achieved independence after a bitter war lasting over seven years. Some 300,000 Algerians died to win their nation's freedom. The war was fought brutally on both sides, but the need for a violent independence struggle was deeply rooted in the violence French imperialism had imposed on Algeria for over a century. As philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre wrote, "It is not their violence, but ours, turned back."

France: turmoil ahead

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The results of the first round of the French presidential elections on 22 April were another sign of the deep political turmoil which sometimes bursts into open struggle and sometimes simmers just under the surface across the whole of Europe. They are a signal of momentous battles to come.

The Socialist Party's François Hollande topped the poll, just ahead of right wing President Nicolas Sarkozy. It is the first time ever that a sitting president has lost in the first round.

The rejection of Sarkozy is welcome. But the biggest winner at the polls was Marine Le Pen for the fascist National Front (FN). She grasped nearly 6.5 million votes, 17.9 percent of the poll.

Is this the end of Sarkozy?

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As the French presidential elections near, Sylvestre Jaffard charts the declining fortunes of Nicolas Sarkozy and looks at the dangers from the right, with the fascist Marine Le Pen buoyed by the polls, and the opportunities for the left to challenge neoliberalism and austerity

On 22 April voters throughout France and the overseas territories still under its control will go to the polls for the first round of the presidential elections. This comes after ten years of Nicolas Sarkozy being in power, the last five as president. The French Tories have managed to score some important victories for the ruling class over that decade. Two successive pension reforms have raised the retirement age while cutting pensions. Social Security (equivalent to the NHS) has been cut so that the sick now have to pay much more out of their own pockets.

Outside the Law

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French Algerian director Rachid Bouchareb spoke to Simon Assaf about his new film on the Algerian war of independence, Outside the Law

The Algerian national liberation struggle plunged France and its Algerian colony into a bloody war that has scarred both countries. Rachid Bouchareb's Outside the Law is the story of Algerian immigrants to France who were drawn into the National Liberation Front (FLN), the Algerian national movement. The war, and the scale of the repression recently admitted by France, is part of a history France attempted to bury.

Death of an internationalist

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Jean-René Chauvin was a French Trotskyist who lived through, and participated in, some of the 20th century's most dramatic events. Ian Birchall looks at his life


On 17 February death finally claimed Jean-René Chauvin. It seems almost miraculous that he has died now, aged 92, and not much earlier. His memoirs contain an unbelievable sentence where he states that, after his incarceration in the Mauthausen and Auschwitz concentration camps, he found the atmosphere in Buchenwald "much more relaxed".

Roma face "ethnic cleansing" from French government

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The policy towards Roma communities led by French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his minister of immigration, integration and national identity, Eric Besson, has provoked international outrage.

Since its introduction at the beginning of the summer, 9,000 Gypsies have been expelled to Romania in packed Boeing 747s, rewarded with just €300 per adult and €100 per child.

Romania's foreign minister, Teodor Baconschi, has raised questions over the real nature of what French officials have called "voluntary repatriations", which have cost the government €18 million. Along with a section of the French media, he expressed regret that this money wasn't used instead to encourage integration.

France: confronting state power

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"On Monday we strike, on Tuesday we strike, on Wednesday we strike, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday too - and it'll only be over when we've won."


Photo: Phototeque.org

This song has become a hit on the mass demonstrations in France. After four days of national strikes and weekly demonstrations since 7 September the government has still not caved in. In just the last four days of action more than 3 million protesters have taken to the streets across the country. As the law to increase the retirement age was about to be passed in the Senate the unions called two new days of strikes and protests.

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