France. The biggest bank fraud in history was revealed in
January when a stock trader at France's second largest bank,
Société Générale, was found to have caused losses of € 4.9
billion through volatile securities transactions. A criminal
investigation was launched against 31-year-old broker Jérôme
Kerviel, who was suspected of being unfaithful to the
principal, computer infringement and document forgery.
to Countryaah reports, President Nicolas Sarkozy remarried in February, just
three months after his former wife's divorce. The
president's romance with ex-model and singer Carla Bruni,
initiated shortly after the divorce, had attracted much
attention and was followed closely by the press. Many French
were critical of what appeared to be a glamorous jet-set
life; folk humor dubbed Sarkozy as "president bling-bling".
Several public temper tantrums and a political clamor, in
which Sarkozy tended to delve into every possible detail,
helped many consider him inappropriate for the presidency.
After a short year in power, Sarkozy was less popular than
any previous president at the same time; less than 40
percent thought he was doing a good job.
Sarkozy's unpopularity contributed to a major defeat for
his party Union for a People's Movement (UMP) in the local
elections in March. The Left took over almost half of the
larger cities previously controlled by the ruling party and
ruled after the election in 25 of the country's 37 largest
France's military presence in Afghanistan sparked debate
in connection with the deaths of ten French soldiers and
twenty others wounded in an attack by Taliban in August. The
loss was the largest individual to date among foreign
soldiers during the NATO-led operation launched in 2001, and
the French army's largest loss of 25 years. A majority of
the French, according to opinion polls, wanted to withdraw
the troops. Instead, the government decided to provide the
more than 2,500-man force with more helicopters, unmanned
aircraft and other equipment.
At the turn of the year, France took over the EU
Presidency. Thus, Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Bernard
Kouchner came to play an active role in the EU's mediation
efforts when war broke out between Georgia and Russia in
August. The effort was successful; ceasefire was concluded
after a few days of fighting.
Sarkozy continued to maintain a high international
profile as the global financial crisis struck with full
force during the autumn. The president became one of the
main players when Europe's leaders displayed an unexpectedly
powerful force of action. His popularity figures were
significantly boosted by international efforts.
Following a joint European initiative to save the
financial sector, in October Parliament approved a rescue
package for banks worth € 360 billion. Sarkozy also promised
a package of measures to save jobs, as the financial turmoil
caused the notifications to increase sharply at car
manufacturers and the construction sector, among others.
Before the summer, unemployment in France had reached its
lowest level in 25 years.
When the Socialist Party at its congress in November
elected a new party leader, Martine Aubry triumphed over
Ségolène Royal, after a bitter battle and with very little
Contemporary History of France
The contemporary history of France is the country's
history from 2005 to the present.
The financial crisis in 2008–2009
Les Républicans declined, but the victory of a crisis-hit
socialist party was scarcer than expected in the local
elections the year after the presidential election. The new
president also had to endure a popularity decline of
historical dimensions, which linked to both unfulfilled
expectations and his third marriage, now with singer Carla
Bruni. Sarkozy, however, strengthened its position within
the EU when France took over the rolling, six-year
presidency in the summer of 2008. The interaction with
Germany - the Paris-Berlin axis - was revitalized as an
engine of EU cooperation, with concerted action against the
escalating financial crisis as a major area.
In April 2009, the French government had committed € 50
billion to meet the financial crisis - and had given itself
an extended deadline, until 2012, to again comply with the
EU requirement that the budget deficit should not exceed 3
per cent of the gross domestic product.
Under Sarkozy, France was keen to further develop
relations with the United States. In the spring of 2009,
France was back in NATO's integrated command structure,
which then-President Charles de Gaulle pulled France out of
in 1966. It was visibly expressed by the alliance's 60th
anniversary summit being split between French Strasbourg and
German Kehl - on each side of the Friendship Bridge across
The declining support for the moderate right-wing party,
and Sarkozy himself, was continued at the regional elections
in March 2010. 52 percent of voters voted socially and 10
percent on Le Pen's outgoing National Front. The government
of Les Républicans only gained 35 percent and lost in 21 of
the country's 22 regions. A voter turnout of around 50 per
cent was also interpreted as an expression of
dissatisfaction, including unemployment that had passed 10
per cent and continued high crime and weak economic growth.
The 2012 presidential election
A new presidential election was held for two rounds in
spring 2012. The first round was held on April 22. None of
the candidates got a majority in the first round. Sitting
President Nicolas Sarkozy and challenger Francois Hollande
of the Socialist Party went on to a second round on May 6
with 27.18 and 28.63 percent of the votes respectively.
The second round ended with Hollande being elected
president with 51.63 percent of the vote, against 48.37
percent for Sarkozy.
The terrorist attacks in Paris 2015
On Friday, November 13, 2015, Paris was hit by several
simultaneous terrorist attacks. Within three hours,
terrorists hit six different locations inside and outside
the city. The sites that were attacked were cafes,
restaurants, a concert venue and the Stade de France
football arena. The terror began at 21.20 and was over at
00.20 at night until Saturday 14 November.
130 people were killed by the terrorists in the attacks.
351 people were injured. Seven terrorists died during the
The day after the attack, then-French President François
Hollande ruled that the Islamic State (IS) extremist group
was behind the terrorist attacks. IS also assumed
responsibility through audio recordings and written messages
in Arabic, French and English posted online.
The terrorist attack was the third attack in the city
this year. On January 7, 12 people were killed in a
terrorist attack against the satire magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Two days later, January 9, four people were killed in a
terror attack on a Jewish business. All three of these
attacks were carried out by extreme Islamists.
The 2017 presidential election
Former President Nicolas Sarkozy attempted a comeback in
2017, but he already failed in the fight to become a
candidate for Les Républicains. Party candidate Francois
Fillon, for his part, failed to advance to the second round
of the spring 2017 presidential election.
The election was marked by a historic setback for the
established and traditionally largest parties in French
politics, Les Républicains and Parti Socialiste. For the
first time in the history of the Fifth Republic, neither
party went on to the second round. The defeat was greatest
for the Socialist Party, the party's candidate Benoît Hamon
was parked with only 6.36 percent of the vote.
The second round was between Emmanuel Macron from the
fresh party La République en marche and Marine Le Pen from
Front National. The election ended with Macron being elected
president after Hollande, as the youngest president in
French history. Opposition to immigration-hostile Front
National secured Macron a support of 66 percent of the vote.
The presidential election was held under state of
emergency, following the November 2015 terrorist attacks in