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FRENCH POLITICS

Macron’s party announces name change and centrist alliance

French President Emmanuel Macron's party has announced a name change and an alliance with two other centrist groups ahead of the parliamentary elections in June.

Macron's party announces name change and centrist alliance
French centre-right party MoDem president speaks next to LREM party's head Stanislas Guerini during a press conference (Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP)

Stanislas Guerini, the delegate general of LREM (La République en marche), announced at a press conference on Thursday that LREM would be changing its name. The presidential party will now be called “Renaissance.”

During the conference in Paris, Guerini said that the new name will allow the six-year-old political party to “rebuild” and “continue expanding its political movement.” Guerini explained that the party will “always make the choice of enlightenment against obscurantism.”

READ ALSO When are the French parliamentary elections and why are they important?

This is not the first time the party has changed its name.

When it was formed as a grassroots group in 2016 it was called En marche ! (on the march), but later dropped the exclamation mark.

After Emmanuel Macron won the presidency in 2017, the party added ‘La République’ to the name, becoming La République en marche (The republic on the march) commonly shortened to LREM.

Although the party has worked hard to grow as an organisation, it is still widely considered ‘Macron’s party’ and supporters are commonly known simply as macronistes

The latest iteration of the party comes as Macron has won a second term as president, but faces a tough battle to win a majority in the parliamentary elections in June.

The party is also facing the prospect of having to fight the 2027 election with a new candidate – in France presidents can only have two consecutive terms.

Guerini spoke at a joint press conference with Richard Ferrand, the LREM president in the French parliament, François Bayrou of the ‘MoDem’ party which currently forms a group with LREM and Edouard Philippe of the ‘Horizons’ party.

Philippe, currently mayor of Le Havre, is Macron’s former prime minister and is widely believed to be planning his own bid for the presidency in 2027. He formed the Horizons party last year, with the declared intention of consolidating the centre group in French politics.

The three announced that they will be creating a federation called “Ensemble” to bring together these three parties in preparation for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The announcement comes after the four major leftist parties (the far-left La France Insoumise, the Greens, the centre-left Parti Socialiste and the Communists) their own alliance in order to fight the parliamentary elections. 

OPINION France’s left alliance is an optical illusion and will not win

The centrist alliance essentially consolidates votes in the parliamentary elections into ‘blocks’ of leftist of centrist voters. The right – far-right Rassemblement National under Marine Le Pen, centre-right Les Républicains and Eric Zemmour’s extreme right block – has no agreement.

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POLITICS

Rugby tickets, coffee and stickers – French presidential candidates chastised over expenses claims

From coffee runs to rugby tickets and professional photos - France's election financing body has revealed some of the items it has refused to reimburse from the 2022 presidential race.

Rugby tickets, coffee and stickers - French presidential candidates chastised over expenses claims

Spending on the election trail is tightly regulated in France, with maximum campaign spends per candidate as well as a list of acceptable expenses that can be reimbursed.

In France the State pays at least some of the election campaign costs, with the budget calculated according to how many votes the candidate ends up getting. 

READ MORE: 5 things to know about French election campaign financing

On Friday, the government body (la Commission nationale des comptes de campagne et des financements politiques – or CNCCFP) released its findings for the 12 candidates who ran in the April 2022 presidential campaign. 

All of the candidates had their accounts approved, but 11 out of the 12 were refused reimbursement on certain items. Here are some of the items that did not get CNCCFP approval;

Rugby tickets 

Jean Lassalle – the wildcard ‘pro farmer’ candidate who received about three percent of votes cast in the first round of the 2022 election – bought “19 tickets to attend a rugby match” according to the CNCCFP’s findings. The organisation said it would not be reimbursing the tickets and questioned “the electoral nature of the event”. 

The total cost of the tickets was €465 (or €24.50 each).

Too many coffees

Socialist candidate, and current mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo reportedly spent at least €1,600 on coffee for her team during the campaign.

According to the CNCCFP, however, the caffeine needed to keep a presidential campaign running did not qualify under the country’s strict campaign financing rules.

Too many stickers

Hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s was told that the 1.2 million stickers that were bought – to the tune of €28,875 – to advertise the campaign would not be reimbursed. Mélenchon justified the purchasing of the stickers – saying that in the vast majority of cases they were used to build up visibility for campaign events, but CNCCFP ruled that “such a large number” was not justified. 

Mélenchon was not the only one to get in trouble for his signage. Extreme-right candidate Éric Zemmour was accused of having put up over 10,000 posters outside official places reserved for signage. The same went for the far-right’s Marine Le Pen, who decided to appeal the CNCCFP’s decision not to reimburse €300,000 spent on putting posters of her face with the phrase “M la France” on 12 campaign buses.

Poster pictures

Emmanuel Macron – who won re-election in 2022 – will not be reimbursed for the €30,000 spent on a professional photographer Soazig de la Moissonière, who works as his official photographer and took the picture for his campaign poster. 

The CNCCFP said that Macron’s team had “not sufficiently justified” the expenditure.

Expensive Airbnbs

Green party member Yannick Jadot reportedly spent €6,048 on Airbnbs in the city of Paris for some of his campaign employees – an expense that the CNCCFP said that public funds would not cover.

Translating posters

The campaign finance body also refused to reimburse the Mélenchon campaign’s decision to translate its programme into several foreign languages at a cost of €5,398.

The CNCCFP said that they did not consider the translations to be “an expense specifically intended to obtain votes” in a French election.

Best and worst in class

The extreme-right pundit Zemmour had the largest amount of money not reimbursed. Zemmour created a campaign video that used film clips and historic news footage without permission and also appeared on CNews without declaring his candidacy – because of these two offences, CNCCFP has reduced his reimbursement by €200,000. He has been hit with a separate bill of €70,000 after he was found guilty of copyright infringement over the campaign video. 

The star pupil was Nathalie Arthaud, high-school teacher and candidate for the far-left Lutte Ouvriere party, who apparently had “completely clean accounts”. A CNCCFP spokesperson told Le Parisien that if all candidate accounts were like Arthauds’, then “we would be unemployed”.

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