Voters punish Sarkozy, Le Maire stays on

It’s been a turbulent few weeks for French President Nicolas Sarkozy and voters expressed their dissatisfaction with his centre-right UMP party in regional elections yesterday. A resurgent Socialist-led opposition alliance took 52% of the vote and the UMP just 35%, squeezed in sevearl contests by the far-right National Front, which scored 9.4% of the national vote but took more than 22% in its two core regions in the north and south. Opposition candidates won in 21 of France’s 22 mainland regions.

Among the losers was French Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire (pictured, right), who was rejected by voters of Normandy, where he was standing for election as Regional President.… Read the rest

Does France really want to suspend agri-environmental measures?

The president of the main farmers’ union, the Fedération Nationale des Syndicats d’Exploitants Agricoles (FNSEA) Jean Michel Le Metayer called for “a pause in agri-environmental measures” and the suspension of new measures. For French speaking readers, the (short) video is here.

The Ministry of agriculture seems sympathetic with this position, even though Nicolas Sarkozy has recently positioned himself as greener than his predecessors, with initiatives under a framework law called the “Grenelle of the environment” and a carbon tax (it turns out that farmers should be exempted from paying this tax, eventually). The French minister Bruno Le Maire apparently said a few days after that, indeed, a revision of the agri-environmental measures (AEM) was necessary and that it should start with an inventory of the provisions adopted throughout the Union according to the newspaper Le Figaro.… Read the rest