Answer the following questions to see who you should vote for in the 2017 election.
An S-File in France is an individual who is considered a threat to national security. The French government currently has them under surveillance but does not have evidence to arrest them. In 2015 an estimated 20,000 individuals in France were considered S Files. Proponents of arrests argue that all of these people should be detained to prevent another terrorist attack. Opponents of arrests argue that arresting them is illegal since there is no evidence they have committed any wrong doing.
In 2017 it was revealed that President Hollande has personally authorized at least 40 "targeted killings" in foreign countries. The death toll includes French citizens. Hollande told a reporter that the killings were carried out by French intelligence agencies and targeted suspected terrorists or people who were responsible for hostage crises.
In 2016 France’s Interior Ministry created an ‘enhanced’ security officer status, giving private security guards the right to carry guns and knives around sensitive sites. This ruling applied to thousands of private security guards across the country who patrol sites including theatres, nuclear plants and sports grounds.
Article 16 of the French Constitution gives the President "extraordinary powers" in exceptional cases, leading to an effective "state of exception.” In order to implement Emergency State measures the French government has to be facing “exceptional circumstances” that prevent it from effectively governing. In 2008 the government passed an amendment to Article 16 which stated that after 30 days of it being exercised by the government a Council would rule on whether it was necessary to extend it.
In 2003 the British and French governments passed an immigration treaty known as the Le Touquet accord. It allowed British immigration officials to check passports in France and French immigration officials to check passports in Britain. Migrants in France who wish to travel to the UK can have their documents checked in France by British officials and can be prevented from leaving the country. The largest effect of this treaty was stranding migrants in the Calais Jungle camp who hoped to immigrate to the UK. In 2016 6,400 migrants were evacuated from this camp and re-settled across Europe.
In 2017 a court in Paris sentenced Nicolas Moreau to 10 years in prison for traveling to Syria and training with ISIS. Prosecutors had argued that Moreau presented an "extremely dangerous threat" and warned that he risked returning to his "jihadist commitment" once released. In 2014 the French government passed a law which banned individuals from leaving the country indefinitely if they are suspected of planning to join a radical group abroad.
After the UN announced that 15,000 people had traveled to the Middle East to join ISIS Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced that France would open a dozen de- radicalization centers. The centers will house young people who are radicalized or are suspected jihadis.
LGBT adoption is the adoption of children by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. This may be in the form of a joint adoption by a same-sex couple, adoption by one partner of a same-sex couple of the other's biological child (step-child adoption) and adoption by a single LGBT person. Joint adoption by same-sex couples is legal in 25 countries. Opponents of LGBT adoption question whether same-sex couples have the ability to be adequate parents while other opponents question whether natural law implies that children of adoption possess a natural right to be raised by heterosexual parents. Since constitutions and statutes usually fail to address the adoption rights of LGBT persons, judicial decisions often determine whether they can serve as parents either individually or as couples.
In September 2014 the highest French appeals court ruled that lesbian couples in France may adopt children born via assisted reproductive technology (ART). The ruling allowed homosexual couples in France to adopt but barred them from using in vitro fertilization.
Capital punishment or the death penalty is a legal process whereby a person is put to death as a punishment for a crime. France abolished capital punishment in 1981.
In France, although women can serve in combat and overall women represent about 19% of all French military personnel, very few women actually serve on the front lines. UK researchers, noting French research from 2006, said 1.7% of women are combat infantry soldiers. Proponents argue that it will help the military retain more women, who tend to leave the services permanently when they have children. Opponents argue that allowing women to serve in these roles would limit the military's ability to fight in combat situations.
In 2010, the Senate of France passed an act which prohibited “concealment of the face in public space.” The act was in response to immigrant Muslim women wearing a Niqab or burqas in public spaces. Proponents argue that the ban infringes on individual rights and prevents people from expressing their religious beliefs. Opponents argue that face-coverings prevent the clear identification of a person, which is both a security risk, and a social hindrance within a society which relies on facial recognition and expression in communication.
Euthanasia, the practice of ending a life prematurely in order to end pain and suffering, is currently considered a criminal offense. Assisted suicide is currently illegal in France. In 2013, President François Hollande proposed a law legalizing assisted suicide but it was defeated by France's official Ethics Advisory Committee.
Abortion is a medical procedure resulting in the termination of a human pregnancy and death of a fetus. In 2014 the French government passed a law which allowed women to get an abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy without providing a reason to their healthcare professional. This amended a 1975 law which allowed women to have an abortion if they proved they were in a situation of “duress”.
In 2011 France's parliament passed a law forcing large companies to reserve at least 40 percent of their boardroom positions for women within six years. The law brings France into line with Norway, where quotas ensuring a minimum level of female representation in boardrooms were introduced in 2003 and Spain, where a similar measure was passed in 2007. In Norway 35.5% of boards contain women directors which is the highest percentage in the world.
In May 2013, the French government legalized same sex marriage. The law allows all married couples to adopt children but does not provide state aid to help same-sex couples procreate. France is the thirteenth country worldwide to allow same-sex couples to marry.
Genetically modified food or crops are plants that have been modified using genetic engineering techniques. Examples of GMO’s include adding genes to certain crops to make them immune to insects or environmental conditions. In 2015, France joined 16 other European countries and used new EU rules to ban the cultivation of genetically modified crops. Opponents of a GMO ban argue that it is killing the crop biotech sector causing France to fall behind international competitors in agricultural innovation. Proponents of the ban argue that the risks related from GMO foods have not been properly tested.
Fracking is the process of extracting oil or natural gas from shale rock. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which fractures the rock and allows the oil or gas to flow out to a well. The French government banned fracking in 2011. While fracking has significantly boosted oil production, there are environmental concerns that the process is contaminating groundwater. Critics of fracking say it pollutes underground water supplies with chemicals, releases methane gas into the atmosphere, and can cause seismic activity. Proponents of fracking say it will drop oil and gas prices in Spain and lead to energy independence.
In November 2018 the online e-commerce company Amazon announced it would be building a second headquarters in New York City and Arlington, VA. The announcement came a year after the company announced it would accept proposals from any North American city who wanted to host the headquarters. Amazon said the company could invest over $5 billion and the offices would create up to 50,000 high paying jobs. More than 200 cities applied and offered Amazon millions of dollars in economic incentives and tax breaks. For the New York City headquarters the city and state governments gave Amazon $2.8 billion in tax credits and construction grants. For the Arlington, VA headquarters the city and state governments gave Amazon $500 million in tax breaks. Opponents argue that governments should spend the tax revenue on public projects instead and that the federal government should pass laws banning tax incentives. The European Union has strict laws which prevent member cities from bidding against each other with state aid (tax incentives) in an effort to lure private companies. Proponents argue that the jobs and tax revenue created by the companies eventually offset the cost of any awarded incentives.
In an effort to curb car pollution in city centers the French Government passed laws which regulated an “alternate traffic system.” Only drivers with odd license plates will be able to circulate in Paris and 22 other regions. Authorities hope the traffic control measures will help ease congestion and reduce carbon emissions.
In 2016, France became the first country to ban the sale of plastic disposable products that contain less than 50% of biodegradable material and in 2017, India passed a law banning all plastic disposable plastic products.
Global warming, or climate change, is an increase in the earth's atmospheric temperature since the late nineteenth century. In politics, the debate over global warming is centered on whether this increase in temperature is due to greenhouse gas emissions or is the result of a natural pattern in the earth's temperature. France accounts for only 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions and ranks among the industrial countries with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions in terms of both emissions per capita and emissions per GDP unit.
President François Holland recently proposed a 2016 budget which cut public spending and introduced a three-year program to grant more than €40 billion in tax breaks to businesses. Critics argue that the caps on spending will hurting the economy and President Holland’s proposed tax breaks are unfairly skewed toward businesses at the expense of households. Proponents argue that the proposals will stimulate the French economy which has an unemployment level of 10% and a growth rate of less than 1%.
Australia currently has a progressive tax system whereby high income earners pay a higher percentage of tax than low income tax. A more progressive income tax system has been proposed as a tool towards reducing wealth inequality.
The minimum wage in France is €9.61 per hour per hour for workers who are over 18 years of age and have at least 6 months of training. France has the third highest minimum wage in the EU behind the UK (€10.20) and the Luxembourg (€11.10). France was the first European country to pass a minimum wage law in 1950. In 2013, President François Hollande raised the minimum wage twice even as Germany and other North European countries called for wage restraint in an effort to decrease debt. Mr. Hollande’s wage increases angered both the left, who argued that the wages were not raised enough and the right who argued that the increase would hurt employers.
A universal basic income is a form of social security in which all citizens or residents of a country regularly receive an unconditional sum of money from the government in addition to any income received from elsewhere. In 2017 French presidential candidates Benoit Hamon and Jean-Luc Bennahmias proposed plan to introduce a universal basic income of €750 (£655) a month, in what they described as a bid to combat the threat of robots taking over three million jobs. No countries in the world currently have a UBI although Finland is set to test it amongst 2000 citizens in late 2017.
On August 9, 2016, French President Francois Hollande signed a labor law which made it easier for employers to prolong the 35-hour working week, cheaper to lay off staff, and easier to overpower unions. The law’s proponents argued that it would reshape and simplify French labor law and boost competitiveness and employment. The law favors collective bargaining at the level of individual companies, in contrast with previous legislation that granted more decision power to industry-wide agreements.
France has enshrined the principle of equal pay for equal work in its constitution and labor code. The first violations were handed out in 2013 when the government fined two companies for paying their female employees less than their male employees. The fines can amount to as much as one percent of their total wages.
5 U.S. states have passed laws requiring welfare recipients to be tested for drugs. France does not currently test welfare recipients for drugs. Proponents argue that testing will prevent public funds from being used to subsidize drugs habits and help get treatment for those that are addicted to drugs. Opponents argue that it is a waste of money since the tests will cost more money than they save.
In 2014, the EU passed legislation that capped bankers' bonuses at 100% of their pay or 200% with shareholder approval. Proponents of the cap say that it will reduce incentives for bankers to take excessive risk similar to what led to the 2008 financial crisis. Opponents say that any cap on bankers' pay will push up non-bonus pay and cause bank's costs to rise.
In 2011 the level of public spending on the welfare state by the British Government accounted for £113.1 billion, or 16% of government. By 2020 welfare spending will rise to 1/3rd of all spending making it the largest expense followed by housing benefit, council tax benefit, benefits to the unemployed, and benefits to people with low incomes.
A government pension is a fund into which a sum of money is added during the period in which a person is employed by the government. When the government employee retires they are able to receive periodic payments from the fund in order to support themselves. As the birth rate continues to fall and the life expectancy rises governments worldwide are predicting funding shortfalls for pensioners. In 2013 the government implemented new pension rules which included raising the number of years a worker had to be employed by the government to work to 43 years from 41.5 years. The government claims this will help erase the $12 billion shortfall by 2020.
France currently levies a 34.4% tax on all businesses. The average corporate tax rate worldwide is 22.6%. Opponents of argue that raising the rate will discourage foreign investment and hurt the economy. Proponents argue that the profits corporations generate should be taxed just like citizen's taxes.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed trade agreement between the European Union and the United States, with the aim of promoting trade and multilateral economic growth. The agreement is opposed by unions, charities, NGOs, and environmentalists in Europe who criticise the agreement for reducing regulations on food safety and environmental legislation.
An offshore (or foreign) bank account is a bank account you have outside of your country of residence. The benefits of an offshore bank account include tax reduction, privacy, currency diversification, asset protection from lawsuits, and reducing your political risk. In April 2016, Wikileaks released 11.5 million confidential documents, known as the Panama Papers, which provided detailed information on 214,000 offshore companies serviced by the Panamanian Law Firm, Mossack Fonesca. The document exposed how world leaders and wealthy individuals hide money in secret offshore tax shelters. The release of the documents renewed proposals for laws banning the use of offshore accounts and tax havens. Proponents of the of the ban argue they should be outlawed because they have a long history of being vehicles for tax evasion, money laundering, illicit arms dealing and funding terrorism. Opponents of the ban argue that punitive regulations will make it harder for American companies to compete and will further discourage businesses from locating and investing in the United States.
An economic stimulus is a monetary or fiscal policy enacted by governments with the intent of stabilizing their economies during a fiscal crisis. The policies include an increase in government spending on infrastructure, tax cuts and lowering interest rates. The French government has asked other EU countries to increase spending in result to the recent economic slowdown. France has asked Germany to invest an additional €50 billion ($63.8 billion) over three years as a way of countering budget cuts in France.
Less than 8% of French workers belong to a labor union, which is significantly below Britain (26%), Germany (18%) and America (11%). French law enables unions to have tight controls over how private companies are run on a daily basis. Elected union delegates represent all employees, union members or not, in firms with over 50 staff on both works councils and separate health-and-safety councils. Opponents of France’s unions laws restrict job growth since many private companies hire less than 50 employees to avoid giving unions powers including the placement of office furniture. Proponents believe unions give workers a collective voice that is necessary to negotiate pay and worker safety.
A tariff is a tax on imports or exports between countries.
Bitcoin is a type of digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank. Bitcoins are stored in a digital wallet, which is like a virtual bank account that allows users to send or receive bitcoins and pay for goods or services. Bitcoin is anonymous, meaning that, while transactions are recorded in a public log, the names of buyers and sellers are never revealed.
A Universal Basic Income program is social security program where all citizens of a country receive a regular, unconditional sum of money from the government. The funding for Universal Basic Income comes from taxation and government owned entities including income from endowments, real estate and natural resources. Several countries, including Finland, India and Brazil, have experimented with a UBI system but have not implemented a permanent program. The longest running UBI system in the world is the Alaska Permanent Fund in the U.S. state of Alaska. In the Alaska Permanent Fund each individual and family receives a monthly sum that is funded by dividends from the state’s oil revenues. Proponents of UBI argue that it will reduce or eliminate poverty by providing everyone with a basic income to cover housing and food. Opponents argue that a UBI would be detrimental to economies by encouraging people to either work less or drop out of the workforce entirely.
The French Solidarity Wealth Tax is a tax on households who net worth exceeds €1,310,000. The assets taken into account in the calculation of the ISF include all the assets held in France or abroad of the taxpayer. Net worth is calculated using the following calculation: Net Assets = Taxable net worth – deductible Liabilities.
A farm subsidy is a form of financial aid paid to farmers by the government. Farmers in the European Union receive 35% of their incomes in subsidies and farmers in the U.S. receive 28%. Proponents of higher subsidies argue that they are necessary to compete with agriculture exports from other western countries. Opponents argue that the farmers should fend for themselves and point out that 2,300 farmers who do not grow crops receive annual subsidies.
Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers should treat all data on the internet equally.
Flag desecration is any act that is carried out with the intention of damaging or destroying a national flag in public. This is commonly done in an effort to make a political statement against a nation or its policies. Some nations have acts that ban flag desecration while others have laws that protect the right to destroy a flag as a part of free speech. Some of these laws distinguish between a national flag and those of other countries.
After the Paris attacks in November 2015 the government passed a law which allowed it to monitor phone calls and emails of people suspected of connections to terrorism without the authorization of a judge. The law also requires Internet service providers to install "black boxes" that are designed to vacuum up and analyze metadata on the Web-browsing and general Internet use habits of millions of people using the Web and to make that data available to intelligence agencies.
Article 49 of the French constitution details the relationships of power between the Prime Minister and Parliament. Clause 3 of this article (49.3) gives the government the power to pass a measure without a vote from parliament. The article allows the government to compel the majority if reluctant to adopt a text, and also to accelerate the legislative process, and in particular to end any obstruction from the opposition. The article has been used fewer than 90 times since its inception in 1958. In 2016 the government used the article to pass a labor reform bill which made it easier for employers to prolong the 35-hour working week, cheaper to lay off staff, and easier to overpower unions.
In January 2018 Germany passed the NetzDG law which required platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to take down perceived illegal content within 24 hours or seven days, depending on the charge, or risk a fine of €50 million ($60 million) fines. In July 2018 representatives from Facebook, Google and Twitter denied to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary committee that they censor content for political reasons. During the hearing Republican members of Congress criticized the social media companies for politically motivated practices in removing some content, a charge the companies rejected. In April 2018 the European Union issued a series of proposals that would crack down on “online misinformation and fake news.” In June 2018 President Emmanuel Macron of France proposed a law which would give French authorities the power to immediately halt “the publication of information deemed to be false ahead of elections.”
A term limit is a law which limits the length of time a person may serve in an elected office. In 2008 the French government passed a constitution reform which limited the office of the Prime Minister to two consecutive five-year terms. Members of the National Assembly must be re-elected every five years.
In December 2016 the French National Assembly passed the Sapin II regime which is a series of laws aimed at combating corruption. The law included a whistleblower protection clause which requires companies with more than 50 employees to establish a framework which protects whistleblowers from retaliation and grants them anonymity. The law does not protect or incentivize whistleblowing by implicated parties and the whistleblower must have firsthand knowledge of the facts.
In 2016 Prime Minister Manuel Valls said he would consider a temporary ban on the foreign financing of mosques, urging a “new model” for relations with Islam after a spate of jihadi attacks. Proponents argue that it would help prevent foreign entities from funding radical mosques in France and prevent terrorism. Opponents argue that the proposal is illegal under French laws which separate Church and State.
77% of healthcare expenditures in France are financed by the government. 3.7% of hospital treatment costs are reimbursed through private insurance. There are public hospitals, non-profit independent hospitals and private for-profit hospitals.
Cannabis use has been illegal in France since 1970, punishable by one year in prison and a €3,750 fine. In practice, imprisonment is rare although fines continue to be meted out.
Single-payer healthcare is a system where every citizen pays the government to provide core healthcare services for all residents. Under this system the government may provide the care themselves or pay a private healthcare provider to do so. In a single-payer system all residents receive healthcare regardless of age, income or health status. Countries with single-payer healthcare systems include the U.K., Canada, Taiwan, Israel, France, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.