Sylvie Kauffmann

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Australian Defence Force, via Getty Images

Make no mistake. This is a crisis, not a spat.

The new partnership announced last week between the United States, Britain and Australia, in which Australia would be endowed with nuclear-powered submarines, has left the French angry and in shock. And not just because of the loss of their own deal, signed in 2016, to provide Australia with submarines.

French officials say they have been stonewalled and duped by close allies, who negotiated behind their backs. The sense of betrayal is so acute that President Emmanuel Macron has uncharacteristically opted to keep silent on the issue, delegating the expression of a very public rage to his otherwise quiet foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian.…  Seguir leyendo »

The union jack is removed from the European Council in Brussels. Photograph: Olivier Hoslet/Pool/EPA

Berlin: The political class is divided on how harsh to be

The German government is bracing itself for tough negotiations. Berlin sees the UK’s decision to put a 31 December time limit on the process as a tactical manoeuvre by Boris Johnson, calculated to step up the pressure on the EU towards the end of 2020. Germany holds the EU presidency until the end of December and will have to oversee negotiations on the next EU budget, which will involve juggling increasingly difficult demands. It will also be the last major test for Chancellor Angela Merkel, coming shortly before she leaves office in 2021.…  Seguir leyendo »

An activist held a placard accusing the Macron government of state violence during clashes between protesters and France’s security forces, on April 15. People were occupying land where an airport was supposed to be built.Credit Damien Meyer/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

On April 23, 2017, Emmanuel Macron stunned the world by leading in the first round of a presidential election that had looked unwinnable by him. He went on to win the second round and carry his movement, En Marche!, to a landslide victory in parliamentary elections. France, the new young president promised, was finally ready to be transformed and would soon be fit for the 21st century.

A year after his first victory, the French president is on a state visit to Washington, and is a changed man. He has turned 40 and has toured the world, where he can still bask in appreciation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Il est des scrutins nationaux qui tiennent l’Europe entière en haleine. Des consultations picrocholines qui prennent un tour existentiel et vers lesquelles, un jour, 500 millions de paires d’yeux se tournent.

Ce fut le cas du référendum sur le Brexit, en juin 2016 ; ou celui de l’élection présidentielle française, ce printemps. C’était, mardi 10 octobre, le cas de la déclaration ultra-médiatisée d’un petit homme étrange dont personne, au nord des Pyrénées, ne savait encore prononcer le nom correctement il y a seulement quinze jours.

Mille journalistes venus du monde entier attendaient sur place, à Barcelone, la déclaration d’indépendance de la Catalogne – ou pas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dancers at the Boryspil Internation Airport in Kiev, Ukraine, on June 11, the first day of visa-free travel to Europe. Credit Stepan Franko/European Pressphoto Agency

As British conservatives licked their wounds a week ago, and French voters were electing hundreds of rookies to Parliament to strengthen the hand of President Emmanuel Macron, Ukrainians at last had a reason to celebrate — and they did, partying by the thousands in Kiev. For them, June 11 was the dawn of the long-awaited era of visa-free travel to Europe. One local magazine called it “Ukraine’s Berlin Wall moment.”

This event, little noticed in the midst of so many political upheavals, is a fresh sign that Europe is moving forward. Giving some 45 million Ukrainians the right to travel freely through the 26 countries of the Schengen area is something of an achievement at a time when, across the European Union, the word “immigration” sounds like a recipe for electoral disaster.…  Seguir leyendo »

The police and protesters clashed during a demonstration called by labor unions in Paris on Monday. Credit Thibault Camus / Associated Press

In a city where Emmanuel Macron got 90 percent of the vote, there was no outpouring of joy on Sunday night. No horns blown, no street parties, no Champagne corks popping in Paris’s cafes. Those who did want to celebrate had to line up for hours to go through security to the grounds of the Louvre, where the newly elected 39-year-old president made a spectacular entrance, with a carefully scripted speech to thank his flag-waving supporters.

All of France had just defeated a demagogic populist by a 2-to-1 vote, but it remains in a revolutionary mood amid the collapse of an ossified political system.…  Seguir leyendo »

La líder derechista del Frente Nacional y candidata presidencial en Francia, Marine Le Pen, se marcha de un debate electoral organizado por la organización laboral ETHIC, el 7 de marzo. Credit Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/Agence France-Presse -- Getty Images

Ahora lo sabemos.

Ahora sabemos de las derrotas sorpresivas en las elecciones, las predicciones erróneas y las encuestas poco confiables, la suposición ciega de muchos de nosotros en los medios de que los electores tendían a pensar como nosotros.

Sabemos que una mayoría de electores británicos decidió que su país debería abandonar la Unión Europea, sabemos que Donald Trump fue electo presidente de Estados Unidos, sabemos que Geert Wilders —el candidato populista al que le gusta llamarse “el Trump holandés”— muy seguramente resultará ganador en la elección parlamentaria de los Países Bajos que se celebrará la próxima semana. Sabemos de la indiferencia al Estado de derecho del gobierno polaco nacionalista.…  Seguir leyendo »

Marine Le Pen in Paris this week. Credit Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Now we know.

Now we know about election upsets, about wrong predictions and unreliable polls, about blind assumption by many of us in the media that voters tend to think as we do.

We know that a majority of British voters have decided that their country should leave the European Union, we know that Donald J. Trump has been elected president of the United States, we know that Geert Wilders, the populist candidate who likes to call himself “the Dutch Trump,” will most likely emerge as the winner of the Dutch parliamentary election next week. We know of the nationalist Polish government’s disregard for the rule of law.…  Seguir leyendo »

Much to our surprise in Europe, religion wasn’t a big theme in the 2016 presidential election in the United States, a country that proclaims its trust in God even on its bank notes. It may therefore be puzzling to some Americans to learn that God is back in the political debate on this side of the Atlantic. And that he chose, of all places, France, the sacred land of “laïcité,” the local version of secularism.

The man who brought God — or, more specifically, Christianity — back is François Fillon, a former prime minister who is running in the presidential election in the spring as the nominee of the main center-right Republican Party.…  Seguir leyendo »

A statue of Joseph Stalin in the main square of his hometown of Gori, Georgia. Cipelli\Archivio Pigi Cipelli\Mondadori Portfolio, via Getty Images

In 1987, at the height of Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s glasnost, I sat down in a Moscow theater with a few hundred others to watch a just-released somber film. Shot three years earlier by the Georgian director Tengiz Abuladze but immediately shelved, the film, “Repentance,” was a powerful allegorical critique of Stalinism in which a corpse refuses to stay buried. In the audience there was not a single dry eye. Finally the monstrosity of Joseph Stalin’s terror could be openly discussed. Sitting in the dark, I realized how painful those secrets, kept so long by millions of Soviet families, had been.

Two years later, in June 1989, Communism collapsed in Poland by way of a negotiated “semi-democratic” election.…  Seguir leyendo »

Marine Le Pen, president of the French far-right party and 2017 French presidential candidate. Credit Joel Saget/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Last Wednesday, as the world sought to absorb the news of Donald J. Trump’s electoral triumph, France’s far-right leader Marine Le Pen was up early, already commenting on Twitter. Even before the American president-elect gave his victory speech, she rushed to congratulate him and “the free American people.” This was hardly surprising, since Ms. Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, is hoping to become the next French president.

On Wednesday evening, we watched her holding forth on mainstream television news, where she has not been a regular guest. Most journalists have as little sympathy for her as she has for them, and she had been staying out of the public eye over the past 10 months, working hard to build an electoral strategy.…  Seguir leyendo »

He's back. It took Monica S. Lewinsky 16 years to face the cameras, but for Dominique Strauss-Kahn, three years was already too long a purgatory.

The man who in all likelihood would be the president of France today — if a chambermaid had not dared, three years ago this month, to accuse him of sexually assaulting her in his New York Sofitel suite — is again the talk of the town. Some of it is against his will, and some of it is of his own making; some is linked to the dark side of his life, and some a reminder of more noble endeavors.…  Seguir leyendo »

On l'a dit, déploré et répété, et on n'a pas fini de battre sa coulpe : pas plus les Européens que les Américains n'ont vu venir les révoltes arabes. Ce n'est pas faute d'avoir été présents dans la région, ni même d'avoir observé, comme l'ont montré les télégrammes du département d'Etat révélés par WikiLeaks - nous étions plutôt bien informés des turpitudes de Ben Ali ou d'Hosni Moubarak. Si demain une ville de province nord-coréenne se soulève, les chancelleries occidentales pourront, sans rougir, avouer leur surprise. Mais ni Tunis ni Le Caire, ni même Tripoli, n'étaient des forteresses impénétrables. Le choix de soutenir les autocrates de la région n'était, simplement, pas le bon.…  Seguir leyendo »

When President Bill Clinton became embroiled in a scandal in 1998 for trying to cover up the fact that he’d had sexual relations with a 22-year-old intern, France watched with a mixture of amazement, irony and — should we deny it? — a certain pleasure.

America trapped in its puritanism! The political life of the world’s leading power paralyzed by a trifling private matter! This lack of understanding between two sides of the Atlantic did not prevent Le Monde from achieving one of its highest sales with the publication of the prosecutor Kenneth Starr’s report on the most intimate aspects of Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »