US Press: pick of the papers

The ten must-read opinion pieces from today's US papers.

1. Just answer the question (Boston Globe)

Debates don't make or break, says James E. Sununo -- they're not boxing matches. They are just another part of the campaign narrative.

2. The case for a third party candidate (Politico)

It should not be surprising that there is support for an independent option in 2012, writes Douglas E. Schoen.

3. Joe McGinniss: Why I used unnamed sources (USA Today)

Writer behind unauthorized Sarah Palin biography, The Rogue, argues that he utilized a method that is controversial, but defensible and necessary.

4. Is the Tea Party Over? (New York Times)

According to Bill Keller, for the answer, watch Rick Perry.

5. Stop treating medical marijuana patients as criminals (Detroit Free Press)

A new federal order barring users from possessing firearms is illogical and ridiculous, argues this editorial.

6. Youth pushed to the edge (Boston Globe)

The "Occupy Wall Street" movement is a direct strike to the nation's conscience by a population that feels excluded from the American dream, writes James Carroll.

7. Understanding the consequences of changes in the minimum wage (The Oregonian)

It may just be a "lousy" 30 cents to snarky activists, but to business owners could be the difference between 10 people on a shift or nine, and unemployment for the person losing out, says Michael Saltsman.

8. Steve Jobs and the Future of Newspapers (Wall Street Journal) ($)

Apple boss loved the printed product, says L. Gordon Crovitz, but told him: "our lives are not like that anymore."

9. The Party Spirit on Trial (New York Times)

Aaron Aster takes a look at how the coming of the Civil War destroyed the two-party system.

10. A GOP assault on environmental regulations (Los Angeles Times)

Republicans, though correct that environmental regulations cost money, are oblivious to the public health consequences of pollution and the economic costs of inaction, says this LA Times editorial.

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Emmanuel Macron's "moralisation of politics" comes at a heavy price for his allies

"Fake" jobs in French politics, season 3 episode 1.

Something is rotten in the state of France. No political party – at least none that existed before 2016 – seems immune to the spread of investigations into “fake” or shady parliamentary jobs. The accusations sank centre-right candidate François Fillon’s presidential campaign, and led to Marine Le Pen losing her parliamentary immunity in the European parliament (and proxy wars within her party, the National Front). Both deny the allegations. Now the investigations have made their way to the French government, led by Edouard Philippe, Emmanuel Macron’s Prime Minister.

On Wednesday morning, justice minister François Bayrou and secretary of state for European affairs Marielle de Sarnez announced their resignation from Philippe’s cabinet. They followed defence minister Sylvie Goulard’s resignation the previous day. The three politicians belonged not to Macron's party, En Marche!, but the centrist MoDem party. Bayrou, the leader, had thrown his weight behind Macron after dropping his own presidential bid in April.

The disappearance of three ministers leaves Emmanuel Macron’s cross-party government, which includes politicians from centre left and centre right parties, without a centrist helm. (Bayrou, who has run several times for the French presidency and lost, is the original “neither left nor right” politician – just with a less disruptive attitude, and a lot less luck). “I have decided not to be part of the next government,” he told the AFP.

Rumours had been spreading for weeks. Bayrou, who was last part of a French government as education minister from 1993 to 1997, had been under pressure since 9 June, when he was included in a preliminary investigation into “embezzlement”. The case revolves around whether the parliamentary assistants of MoDem's MEPs, paid for by the European Parliament, were actually working full or part-time for the party. The other two MoDem ministers who resigned, along with Bayrou, also have assistants under investigation.

Bayrou has denied the allegations. He has declared that there “never was” any case of “fake” jobs within his party and that it would be “easy to prove”. All the same, by the time he resigned, his position as justice minister has become untenable, not least because he was tasked by Macron with developing key legislation on the “moralisation of politics”, one of the new President’s campaign pledges. On 1 June, Bayrou unveiled the new law, which plans a 10-year ban from public life for any politician convicted of a crime or offence regarding honesty and transparency in their work.

Bayrou described his decision to resign as a sacrifice. “My name was never pronounced, but I was the target to hit to attack the government’s credibility,” he said, declaring he would rather “protect this law” by stepping down. The other two ministers also refuted the allegations, and gave similar reasons for resigning. 

Macron’s movement-turned-unstoppable-machine, En Marche!, remains untainted from accusations of the sort. Their 350 new MPs are younger, more diverse than is usual in France – but they are newcomers in politics. Which is exactly why Macron had sought an alliance with experienced Bayrou in the first place.

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