France. The credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s lowered France’s credit rating in January, citing the country’s high indebtedness and the eurozone crisis. It was relatively expected, but still a nose for President Nicolas Sarkozy, who said a credit cut would be “dead” for his re-election chances.
The Senate passed a law that made it criminal to deny that Armenians were subjected to genocide during World War I in today’s Turkey. However, the disputed law, which had already been passed by the National Assembly, was annulled at the end of February by the Constitutional Court, which found that it violated the freedom of expression. Turkey, which had frozen some contacts with France in protest, welcomed the court’s decision
The city of Toulouse was shaken in March by a serial killer who turned out to be an Islamist terrorist. First, three soldiers were shot dead on two separate occasions. A few days later, three children and a teacher were murdered at a Jewish school. Soon afterwards, the perpetrator was identified and after a siege of more than two days, 23-year-old Mohammed Merah was shot dead in a police fire. Afterwards came criticism of the security service that did not keep him under surveillance despite signs of violent extremism.
- AbbreviationFinder.org: Provides most commonly used acronyms and abbreviations for France. Also includes location map, major cities, and country overview.
The weeks following the act, police arrested 30 suspected extreme Islamists in raids in several parts of France. Several were expelled from the country.
In the first round of elections in April, Socialist Party candidate François Hollande won, closely followed by Sarkozy. The anti-xenophobic National Front candidate Marine Le Pen received 18%, the party’s best result to date. It was interpreted as a failure of Sarkozy in his attempts to lure over right-wing voters with his stubborn attitude toward immigrants.
In the decisive round in May, Hollande won by just under 52 against just over 48% for Sarkozy.
The government that Hollande appointed consisted of half of women, which was new to France. The Prime Minister’s post went to Jean-Marc Ayrault. In accordance with a election promise, Hollande lowered ministerial salaries, as well as his own salary, by 30%.
Elections to the National Assembly were held in two rounds in June. The Socialist Party, with the support of the Environmentalist Party and some leftist groups, gained a reassuring majority, while Sarkozy’s bourgeois party UMP (Union for a People’s Movement) backed down sharply. The result meant that the socialists held both the presidential post and a majority in both chambers of parliament.
The new government was facing difficult challenges; unemployment was high, the economy had stagnated and not much pointed to a speedy recovery. A tough budget was presented with spending cuts and tax increases, mainly for well-off people and companies. Particularly noteworthy was a temporary tax of 75% on incomes over one million euros a year.
Hollande’s popularity declined rapidly. Half a year after the election, two-thirds of voters were dissatisfied with the government. The president was regarded as initiativeless and unclear. The economy was in dire need of growth beyond the zero line for growth.
At the Socialist Party Congress in September, the party leader Martine Aubry resigned, who lost the primary election against Hollande and then became without a ministerial post in his government. She was succeeded by Harlem Désir.
In November, for the first time, primary elections were also held at the UMP, which has been without a leader since Sarkozy’s election defeat. The election between right-wing candidate Jean-François Copé and former prime minister François Fillon resulted in a bitter battle that resulted in both proclaiming themselves victors. The conflict threatened to split the party, but the rivals eventually agreed to hold a new election in 2013.
In November, France was first among the EU countries to recognize the newly formed opposition alliance as a legitimate representative of Syria and also advocated arms deliveries to the regime’s opponents.
The announced increase in marginal tax rates made many wealthy people threaten to leave the country, and some did. Particularly resurrection aroused the star actor Gérard Depardieu’s decision to emigrate. Just before the New Year, the Constitutional Court declared that the tax violated the Constitution, as it was directed at individuals and not households that otherwise apply in France. The decision was seen as a serious setback for Hollande, who, however, promised to return with a new version of the law.
|Gross domestic product (GDP)||$ 2,856,000,000,000|
|GDP growth rate||2.30%|
|GDP per capita||$ 44,100|
|GDP by sector|
|Proportion of the population below the national poverty line||7.9%|
|Distribution of household income|
|Industrial production growth rate||1.00%|
|Investment volume||20.6% of GDP|
|National debt||96.80% of GDP|
|Foreign exchange reserves||$ 146,800,000,000|
According to countryaah, the population of France in 2012 was 64,453,089, ranking number 22 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.500% yearly, and the population density was 117.7105 people per km2.